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Keba Keita’s journey to collegiate basketball –

The University of Utah men’s basketball team was able to put together another winning season this year, which wouldn’t have been possible without their sixth man, Keba Keita. The 6-foot-2 sophomore from Bamako, Mali, has steadily improved in his two years at Utah and looks to make a big leap in his junior year as teammate Branden Carlson will graduate leaving a huge vacancy on the team. Despite being an incredible athlete and one of the most lethal shot blockers in the entire country, Keita never intended to pursue a career in basketball until an unexpected journey took him more than 6,000 miles from home, here, to Salt Lake City led.

His path to Utah

Basketball wasn’t always Keita’s sport, as he originally played volleyball in Mali. After the Keita family decided to move to Utah, Keita decided to pursue basketball as his primary sport and never looked back.

Keita attended Wasatch Academy during his freshman year and was set to graduate in the class of 2022. Keita showed flashes of greatness early in his high school career, but was still a very raw prospect with a lot to prove. After his senior year, Keita received four offers, including the U. Keita fell in love with the prospect of staying in Utah, close to his family, and decided to take his talents to Salt Lake City.

In his second year living in the United States, Keita began to adjust to the American lifestyle and was excited to attend a historic school with a deep-rooted basketball history.

First improvements

Playing just two years of USA basketball before playing at a Power Five Division One school is quite an adjustment for someone whose primary focus for years was volleyball. Despite his lack of experience, Keita arrived on campus his freshman year ready to put in the work to thrive as a collegiate basketball player. Keita worked tirelessly to improve his free throw, which he cited as one of his weaknesses. In year one, Keita shot 42.1% from the free throw line and was able to increase these numbers to 56.1% in year two, demonstrating Keita’s dedication to continually improving his game.

In Keita’s freshman year, he averaged 3.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 0.7 blocks per game in just 10.5 minutes per game. Keita played very well all year – considering his lack of experience – and was encouraged by what he was able to achieve in his first year.

Sophomore year was a different story for Keita as he looked to make an impact in the Utah rotation. In his second season, Keita has made tremendous strides, averaging 8.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per night as a key piece in Utah’s rotation.

One of the youngest players on Utah’s roster, Keita looks to continue his improvement this season to take over the role of one of the veteran leaders in his third year as a Ute. Keita showed not only his ability to improve in every aspect of his game, but also the ability to adapt to American basketball after just his fourth year of organized basketball in the United States. The desire and passion to become a great basketball player is one of the many reasons he is extremely coachable and a great guy to have with a Utah rebuilding program.

What basketball means to Keita

Keita will enter his junior season next year, where he will take on a more defined role with Utah losing Carlson. Keita has worked extremely hard to get this opportunity as a starter in Division I, and he will look to make a huge impact alongside Lawson Lovering next year.

The Keita family has another son: Keita’s older brother, Noumory, who plays professional volleyball in South Korea. Keita has a very close bond with his family and wants to be able to support them by eventually playing professional basketball. Keita wishes his brother would play basketball with him, but he knows he has fallen in love with the game of volleyball and is flourishing in it.

Throughout Keita’s journey to the US, he has remained humble and dedicated to perfecting his craft. The ability to not become complacent sets him apart from other basketball players, and his continued dedication should pay off in the near future. With two years of college eligibility remaining, Keita has time to improve his game and make the jump to the professional level. Catch Keita for the Utes next year as the team transitions to the Big 12 Conference.

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@Kylegarr23