Marysville High School senior basketball standout Keenan Prince attended his neighborhood school Yuba City High as a freshman but transferred to Marysville as a sophomore to be closer to his father, Gerrard, who has coached basketball in several capacities at the school during the past eight seasons.
Keenan also wanted to play for longtime family friend Brian Lowe, the school's boys varsity coach.
But Prince's hardship transfer appeal was denied by the Sac-Joaquin Section that year so he played on the JV team, where he scored a school-record 724 points in 18 games.
"He was going off for 40 points a night, and I had no point guard on the varsity because he had hurt his knee in the first league game," Lowe said. "We had a good team that year but just missed the playoffs. Who knows how good we would have been had we had Keenan."
Because of that, he still was largely an unknown last season, but Prince made some noise in a face-to-face match-up with Roseville's highly touted Elston Turner Jr. during a tournament.
Prince outplayed the talented Turner, playing his senior year in a Houston-area high school, scoring 29 points and grabbing 13 rebounds while limiting Turner to 16 points and four rebounds.
"It was great playing against him," Prince said. "I knew he had already committed to Washington. I knew he was 6-4. But I didn't know much about his game.
"But I like to step up and show people I can play under pressure. And I got my teammates involved (he had five assists), and we got the win."
Lowe said it was a first against No. 16 San Juan on Jan. 22.
Instead of the usual double and triple teams that Prince has been seeing, several times he was surrounded by four defenders in the 78-52 Golden Empire League loss.
Yet he still scored and dished out assists.
"Those were the hardest 22 points he has ever tried to score," Lowe said.
On one play, Lowe said Prince split two defenders, then juked a third who came up to stop him. The last line of defense was San Juan's 6-3, 235-pound center Chaz Montague.
"It looks like Keenan is going to run him over, which is like a Volkswagen hitting a freight train, and at the last minute he contorts his body enough to turn sideways, miss Montague and switch the ball from his right to left hand to lay it in.
"I've watched Keenan for years, and he continues to amaze me."
We asked Fletcher Johnson, Prince's offseason AAU coach and as assistant at Cordova High School, to provide an assessment of Keenan's strengths and weaknesses.
"Keenan is a great kid that works very hard on his game. He shoots the ball very well and plays hard but has a tendency of trying to do too much sometimes. He gets away with that for Marysville because they need him to carry them. He has the ability to create scoring opportunities for others and could become a good lead guard once he learns to run a team and play within a system that requires him to make good decisions with the basketball.
"Keenan's dedicated to becoming the best player he can be. He never missed nor was he late to any practices. This is big when you consider he's coming from Marysville to Sacramento for practices. I wouldn't and don't hesitate to call Keenan any time I need a player for a game or tournament during the off-season.
"He complained not once when it was mentioned he wasn't on The Bee's All-Metro team last year, even though he was in the top 10 in the area of almost every statistic. His attitude was he would just have to play better this year. I was definitely impressed with that."
- Bill Paterson
Read more about Keenan Prince tomorrow in The Bee.