RJ Keene

RJ Keene wears a Boise State shirt, hat and facemask after committing to the Broncos’ basketball team on Thursday.

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From his very first conversation with Boise State assistant basketball coach Tim Duryea, RJ Keene says he knew the Broncos were who he wanted to play for.

On Thursday, he announced his plan on TV in his hometown of Houston, albeit in a unique way in the age of COVID-19.

Rather than the traditional lineup of hats representing his finalists, Keene had face coverings with the logos of the six contenders. When the time came to make his announcement, Keene put on the Boise State mask and unzipped his jacket to reveal a Broncos T-shirt, giving the team one of its highest-ranked recruits in program history.

“I’m speechless, at the end of the day it’s where I wanted to be,” Keene told the Idaho Press shortly after his announcement. “I can’t wait to call Boise, Idaho, my home.”

Keene, a 6-foot-7, 190-pound wing, is rated as a four-star recruit by ESPN. He will be a senior at Concordia Lutheran this fall, where he averaged 19,5 points per game as a junior and made 135 3-pointers, which was the 10th-most in the nation according to MaxPreps. He likens his style of play to former Bronco Justinian Jessup, who finished his Boise State career in March with a Mountain West-record 325 made 3-pointers.

“We’re both 6-7, but he probably weighs a little bit more than me,” Keene said about Jessup. “I saw the way he put the ball in the hoop. He could do it, why can’t I?”

Keene said he first talked to Duryea in March and coach Leon Rice called a week later. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic prevented him from making a visit to the campus, Keene said the conversation he had with coaches made him feel like Boise was where he needed to be. He chose Boise State over 17 other offers, with Utah State, Grand Canyon, Iona, George Washington and Hawaii being his other finalists.

He will be making an unofficial visit to Boise State with his family at the end of July.

“They just had a plan for me,” said Keene. “With their style of play, they’re the school that had the right fit. I liked how things were going and I couldn’t find one bad thing about Boise.”

Keene will join a Boise State roster that will graduate just Derrick Alston and Abu Kigab from what is expected to be one of the more loaded rosters in program history this season. He will be a part of the Broncos’ 2021 recruiting class with Tyson Degenhart, a two-star power forward from Spokane, Washington.

“Talking to Coach Rice, he’s extremely excited to have the team this year,” Keene said. “He wants to play so bad. With me and Tyson coming in, it’s just going to get even scarier. We’re ready to get the tournament run going and I want to do it as soon as possible.”

John Wustrow is the assistant sports editor of the Idaho Press. He is a Michigan native and a graduate of Indiana University.

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