LARRY LAGE, AP Sports Writer
Marcus Keene, the nation’s leading scorer, is entering the NBA draft, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because an announcement had not been made.
Keene scored 30 points per game at Central Michigan this season, the highest scoring average by a Division I player since Charles Jones averaged 30.1 points for Long Island University during the 1996-97 season.
The 5-foot-9 point guard was born in Germany, where his parents were employed by the U.S. Air Force, and raised in San Antonio. Keene spent two seasons at Youngstown State before transferring. After sitting out last year as a redshirt, he was a scoring sensation this season as a redshirt junior.
Despite Keene’s prolific scoring, though, the Chippewas lost their last eight games to finish the season with a .500 record. Central Michigan will also lose senior Braylon Rayson, another 5-9 guard, who averaged 21-plus points a game and finished second in Mid-American Conference scoring.
The Chippewas had twice as many wins as losses in early February before starting their season-ending slide.
Win or lose, Keene scored a lot by creating his own shot off the dribble, driving into the lane for layups or fouls that led to free throws and on contested 3-pointers even though defenses were determined to slow him down.
He scored 50 in a win over Miami, Ohio, in January to become the first in Division I basketball to reach that milestone since 2013. He closed his college career with 41 points in a loss at Kent State in the opening round of the MAC Tournament, giving him an NCAA-high seven games with 40-plus points and a nation-best 17 games with 30-plus point games.
Keene set a single-season MAC record with 959 points. He averaged nearly five points more than the nation’s second-leading scorer, South Dakota State’s Mike Daum, who is a foot taller. He proved he could pass, too, ranking third in the conference with 4.9 assists per game.
Keene, Stephen Curry and Jimmer Fredette are the only players who have averaged at least 28.5 points per game over the last 15 seasons in Division I basketball.
The lack of size will be an obstacle to overcome much as it has been Keene’s entire life. Isaiah Thomas, who like Keene may be shorter than 5-9 in socks, though, has proven with the Boston Celtics that the shortest player on the court can still be one of the best. Looking for perhaps the next diminutive standout, NBA teams sent scouts to see Keene play often this year.
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