Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's basketball program and several former Bulldog standouts continue to make a big impact on the professional level as evidenced recently in the pro hoops ranks.
Former Bulldog star forward/center Justin Keenan (Grand Rapids/Ottawa Hills), who was the 2011 NCAA Division II National Player of the Year in his senior campaign at Ferris State, had two big back-to-back games this past week in Puerto Rico against two of the top teams in the Puerto Rico-BSN Professional League. He netted a pair of double-doubles with 27 points and 12 rebounds on Saturday followed by 36 points and 10 boards on Sunday.
Meanwhile, former Bulldog guard Kenny Brown (Farmington Hills/Harrison), who helped FSU to back-to-back Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division Championships in 2011 and 2012, made his overseas debut in El Salvador and tallied 32 points, six assists, four rebounds and four steals in a strong first outing this past week. He previously received several NBA tryouts leading up to last summer's June NBA Draft, including one with the Detroit Pistons, after wrapping up his FSU career during the 2012-13 campaign. He also played this past year for the Michigan-based Lake Michigan Admirals of the Premier Basketball League (PBL).
Another former Bulldog standout forward, Jerrell Sanders (Grand Rapids/Creston), who was teammates with both Keenan and Brown at FSU, received an opportunity to play professionally overseas this year in Germany with the BG Bonn Meckenheim club in one of
the country's top leagues where's he's ranked as one of the top import players.
Yet another past Bulldog guard, Courtney Blackmore (Benton Harbor/Coloma), claimed the Premier Basketball League's Defensive Player of the Year honor with 51 defensive rebounds and 45 steals in only 14 games played for the Lake Michigan Admirals this season. He also knocked down 37 three-pointers.
Along with Brown, one of Blackmore's other Lake Michigan teammates this year included former Bulldog forward Terrance Shaw (Saginaw/Bridgeport), who has spent much of the past decade as one of the top scorers in several Midwest-based professional leagues with different organizations. Both Shaw and Blackmore are currently now on the roster of the Grand Rapids Fushion in the Independent Basketball Association (IBA), a 15-team spring league that stretches from coast to coast.
Former Bulldog guard Austin Randel (Lake City/McBain) scored the first-ever basket for professional basketball's Grand Rapids Cyclones, who suffered a 98-96 setback to the Lake Michigan Admirals in an exhibition contest at the DeltaPlex Arena in Grand Rapids in late February. Randel squared off in that game against the trio of Brown, Shaw and Blackmore. The Cyclones are playing a limited schedule this spring with plans to join the PBL next season.
In addition to the recent success, several other former Bulldog standouts have also had an opportunity to compete at the professional level in the past decade on the hardwood. Among others, former standout point guard Dennis Springs (Toledo, Ohio) spent time overseas before playing professionally in the International Basketball League (IBL) with the Holland Blast. Former standout center Adam Anderson (Kent City) also played with the Grand Rapids Flight in the now-defunct IBL.
Keenan, who led the Bulldogs to a GLIAC Championship and the NCAA Division II Sweet Sixteen as a senior in the 2010-11 campaign, has had the biggest impact in professional hoops among the past FSU standouts. He played the 2013-14 season in Argentina's top professional league, LigaA, with La Union Formosa prior to signing a deal this spring with Coamo in Puerto Rico. He's played for seven different teams in four coutries since graduating from FSU and consistently ranked among the top scorers and rebounders in each league.
This past year, Keenan averaged more than 20 points and nearly nine rebounds per game in Argentina for La Union in 44 contests while ranking second in the league in scoring and among the top five overall in rebounding. The standout also had a league-best +24.2 player evaluation figure while solidifyiing himself as a top three import in the highly-competitive Argentinian league. He's curently scored 17.1 points per game with 7.4 boards a contest in eight outings in Puerto Rico against a number of former NBA and top collegiate standouts.
Brown played 14 games for Lake Michigan in the Premier Basketball League prior to going to El Salvador and averaged more than 19 points per game.
The Ferris State men's basketball program has a long track record of success that includes more than 1,000 all-time victories, 13 GLIAC Championships and nine NCAA Tournament appearances. FSU has also reached the GLIAC Postseason Tournament eight of the last 10 years, which ranks as one of the conference's top showings over the past decade. The Bulldogs have won four league championships and twice reached the NCAA Division II Sweet Sixteen since 2004.
This past season, under first-year head coach Andy Bronkema, also marked the 12th consecutive year in which FSU has finished with double-digit victories.