Ferris State University sophomore forward/center Justin Keenan (Grand Rapids/Ottawa Hills) was recently chosen as the Grand Rapids Press' Men's Basketball Player of the Year for the 2008-09 campaign as selected by Press Sportswriter Howie Beardsley in the publication's March 29 edition.
The annual all-star list entitled "Bearsley's Best", which began eight years ago, recognizes the top players and coaches in one of the nation's premier areas for small college basketball. The Grand Rapids Press coverage area includes some of the finest small college programs from the NCAA Division II, III and NAIA levels including Ferris State, Calvin, Hope, Grand Valley State, Aquinas, Davenport and Cornerstone among others.
Besides Keenan's selection, the other "Beardsley's Best" recipients included Davenport's Burt Paddock (Men's Coach of the Year), Emma Veach of Grand Valley State (Women's Player of the Year) along with Davenport's Mark Youngs (Women's Coach of the Year).
In addition to being named Player of the Year, Keenan also was a first-team all-area selection with Bulldog sophomore guard Darien Gay (Detroit/Henry Ford) earning second-team laurels. Senior guard Teghan Thelen (Pewamo/Westphalia) of the FSU women's team attained honorable mention accolades on the women's side.
The 6-6 Keenan was previously honored as a National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Division II All-Midwest District Second Team pick along with a Daktronics All-Midwest Region Second Team and All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division First Team selection this year.
One of five players named to the Preseason All-GLIAC North Division squad in voting by the league’s member head coaches this year, Keenan led the GLIAC in scoring (20.2 ppg.) while ranking second in offensive rebounds (3.4 rpg.), fourth in rebounding (7.3 rpg.) and fourth in field goal percentage (.546). He also made and attempted more free throws (180-237) than any other player in the league this season. Keenan also shot the most free throws of all GLIAC players as a freshman, hitting 167 of 212 (.788) in 2007-08.
Keenan reached double-figure scoring in 24 of his 25 games and totaled 20 points or more in 14 outings this year, including a career-high 33 points versus Olivet (Nov. 25). Last season, Keenan was the Bulldogs' top scorer (15.9 ppg.) and rebounder (6.9 rpg.) as a freshman when he claimed team Most Valuable Player Award honors in his initial collegiate season. He tallied 26 double-figure scoring performances in 29 contests his rookie year, including eight games with 20 points or more.
A year ago, Keenan ranked ninth in scoring along with 10th in rebounding among the GLIAC leaders. Additionally, he also placed ninth in the GLIAC in both field goal (.539) and free throw (.788) percentage while registering six double-double (points & rebounds) efforts in his initial collegiate campaign.
In 55 career contests to date, Keenan has recorded 985 points and 392 rebounds while starting 52 games. His 347 made free throws (347-449) currently ranks sixth on the school's career leaders list while he needs only 15 more points to become only the 26th player in Ferris history to score more than 1,000 career points. Keenan's current .543 (317-584) field goal percentage figure is tied for 10th place on FSU's career chart.
This season, Keenan set a school record by making 180 free throws, which surpassed former Bulldog Adam Anderson's record of 179 made free throws recorded in the 2000-01 campaign. His 20.2 points per game average represented the fifth-best figure by a sophomore player in school history. Twice this season Keenan claimed GLIAC North Division Player of the Week accolades.
By earning all-region laurels, Keenan became the first Bulldog men's player to achieve all-district recognition since former standout point guard Dennis Springs picked up NABC First Team All-District status as a senior in the 2005-06 campaign. Keenan is only the 11th different Ferris player since 1980 to claim all-region or all-district honors.
Keenan is also the second FSU men's player in the last four years to be chosen as West Michigan's "Player of the Year", joining Springs who earned the honor following his senior campaign in 2005-06.
Ferris State concluded the 2008-09 campaign with a 14-14 overall record and the Bulldogs placed third (12-10) in GLIAC North Division play. In addition, FSU made its 10th GLIAC Tournament appearance and fourth in the last five years after missing the event a year ago. This year also represented the seventh consecutive year the Bulldogs have won 10 or more games under seventh-year head coach Bill Sall after the program had not done so in the four years prior to his arrival.