Steel Valley's Keyes transforms into promising big man
TribLIVE Sports Videos
It's one of those stories that Shawn McCallister can't help to tell any chances he gets.
And it's one of those stories that he gets better at telling each time.
Steel Valley went to Chartiers-Houston for a scrimmage game last season with a pretty established team. Still, the longtime coach was eager to see 6-foot-6 sophomore center Dom Keyes.
During the game, Keyes was fouled and headed to the free-throw line for two shots when McCallister noticed that something just wasn't right.
“He was standing at the wrong foul line,” McCallister said. “They had a youth foul line on the floor, and he was standing at that.”
When you have never played organized basketball before, those things happen.
“Yeah, you can say he was kind of raw in the beginning,” McCallister said.
A year later, and there's nothing ordinary or raw about Keyes.
Keyes has transformed from a kid who didn't even know the rules let alone the intricacies of the game to become one of the dominating forces in the WPIAL.
He helped Steel Valley to a 15-4 regular-season record and will lead the Ironmen into Tuesday's Class AAA first-round playoff game against Mars at West Allegheny.
“From the time he started playing organized ball until now, he has just made amazing strides,” McCallister said. “He went from not understanding the game of basketball to becoming a dominant force out on the court.”
And definitely one of the most complete players as well.
Keyes finished the regular season averaging 15 points, 14 rebounds and 3.5 blocks.
He scored double figures in the first 12 games of the season and 16 of the 19, but saved his biggest games for the most important ones.
Keyes scored 22 and grabbed 18 rebounds against No. 2 Thomas Jefferson; had 21 points and 21 rebounds against No. 3 Elizabeth Forward and 25 and 18 against rival West Mifflin within a two-week span late during the regular season.
And just think, he didn't know what he was doing one year earlier.
“I put a lot of work in over the summer and during practice,” Keyes said. “Just practicing every part of the game to prepare for this. I've always loved playing basketball but never was good enough to play.”
Keyes went out for the Steel Valley Middle School team in seventh grade, but was cut because “I wasn't good enough.”
That quickly changed.
Keyes played summer basketball in Charlie Batch's Project C.H.U.C.K league when he was 15. That was about the time he first dunked a basketball.
“It was an alley-oop,” Keyes recalled. “And I was wearing those skater shoes.”
Even though he kept getting prodded to play basketball by his friends, Keyes didn't decide to play again until his sophomore year.
“I felt like I got way better, and that I could play with the guys,” Keyes said. “I figured I'd try out, and I made the team.”
Keyes mostly played junior varsity as a sophomore before McCallister moved him up midway through the season.
“He had to learn the game when it came to organized basketball. He just needed some experience,” McCallister said.
“Now he plays both sides of the court. He just won't worry about the offensive end. He likes to go to glass ,and he's long. He has a long body and has long arms, so he rebounds the ball better than most even when he is out of position.”
When paired with Ajan Smith and Dorian Broadwater along with Derek Taylor and Brandon Donovan, the Ironmen have proven to be a difficult team to match up against.
Steel Valley leads Class AAA in scoring at 74.1 points per game.
“Every team's goal is to make it to Palumbo,” Keyes said. “We are going to take it one game at a time. We just want to beat Mars.
“A lot of people don't expect us to go far. I think we might surprise some people.”
Keyes has already surprised his share, that's for sure.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Seneca Valley summer basketball camp proves successful
- Norwin girls basketball win McKeesport summer league
- Baldwin boys basketball team to be led by solid senior leadership in 2015-16
- Young Penn-Trafford girls basketball team using summer league to improve
- Gateway girls basketball coach to take over Shaler
- Monessen’s Brown coaching in J. Budd Grebb Memorial Summer Basketball League
- No lack of scoring in Grebb boys’ action