Sunday, December 18, 2016

Hometown Heroes Hill and Keeling to Meet Tuesday Fresh Off Standout Performances Saturday

Aquinas graduated Ahmed Hill is Virginia Tech's second leading scorer at 14 ppg.

Aquinas graduate (2014) Ahmed Hill, now a Virginia Tech sophomore, scored 22 points and grabbed 8 rebounds in a 113-71 win over The Citadel Saturday:

The win was the Hokies' fifth straight and the second consecutive game in which Hill burned the nets as the 6'4" guard scored 20 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in last Sunday's win over Ole Miss. Hill is averaging 14 points and 4 rebounds per game, and he is living up to teammate Seth Allen's nickname for him, "Money Med," by making 29 threes at a 47% clip so far this season.

Ahmed was Georgia's third all time leading scorer in high school. And he is the only player to be named the Augusta Chronicle Player of the Year two times. Virginia Tech will begin its ACC schedule on New Year's Eve against Duke, which many believe is college basketball's best team. But the Hokies play two more non conference games before the Blue Devils visit Blacksburg for a game that is already sold out. The first of those contests is Tuesday when another hometown hero and the most recent Augusta Chronicle Player of the Year*, Christian Keeling (Laney, 2016), visits Hill and the Hokies with his Charleston Southern Buccaneers for a 9:00 P.M. matchup that will be broadcast on ESPNU.

*Keeling won last season's award along with teammate Zep Jasper, who is playing a season at Notre Dame Prep before enrolling at the College of Charleston next Fall.

Keeling Continues his Roll, Scoring 19 Points in a Loss at Georgia

Click here for CSU's photo reel from the UGA game, which has many pictures of Augusta's Christian Keeling.

Christian Keeling, who has already been named the Big South Conference Freshman of the Week, scored 19 points Saturday in Charleston Southern's 84-64 loss at Georgia. Keeling is the team's second leading scorer at 14.3 points per game, and his per game averages of 6.1 rebounds and 5.2 free throw attempts lead the team.

I have been pleasantly surprised by Christian's ability to immediately translate his excellence at attacking the basket at the high school level to the division I setting. His success scoring, rebounding, and getting fouled mirrors what he was able to do at Laney. And his 37% three point shooting so far this season completes the statistical story of Keeling's complete game that he has shown in his first month of college action.

Another story about Keeling that tells why he is loved by so many

Christian is beloved by Augusta's basketball fans for good reasons. He has shared so many of his emotions with us during his hoops journey, which included 3 trips to the state tournament semifinals, another to the quarterfinals, and recognition by as class AAA's player of the year in Georgia during his senior season. Along the way his faith and spirit have been tested by some of life's most difficult hardships. And he has persevered in ways that we all would hope to be able to emulate. When I asked him in a text recently if he is doing as well in school as he is on the court, his response was consistent with everything I've seen and heard about him throughout the past 5 years: "Yes I have A's and B's. God and education come before everything," Christian told me.

That text exchange finished with something funny and true about his former coach Buck Harris, whose imprint is still felt by Keeling nearly two years after he played his last game under Harris at Laney. The text refers to Harris's joy at seeing Christian taking a charge, shown in the highlights above, in his first college game. And it also refers to Keeling's former teammate Ja'Shawn Brooks, who also learned from Harris how to sacrifice his body for the good of the team:

Christian has obviously taken a big piece of Augusta basketball's fiber with him to Charleston. I like to believe has Hill done the same thing in his move to Blacksburg. I'll watch as two of the decade's finest local players square off Tuesday, as I'm confident so many of you will too!

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