Kyle Keener has dreamed of playing college basketball since he was 4 years old, and his outstanding play over the last few seasons at Sequoyah has put him in position to achieve that dream.
Steady improvement is at the core of Keener’s journey. Sequoyah coach Allen Carden called Keener one of the hardest workers on an incredibly talented team.
That drive and work ethic at practice gives Keener a decisive edge.
“I wake up every day knowing that I have to be better than I was the day before to make it,” Keener said. “College basketball is one of my end goals, and it was a dream I have had since I was a little kid.”
Keener has helped Sequoyah to one of Cherokee County’s best records at the season’s midway point. The Chiefs improved to 10-4 on Jan. 4 with a 76-62 win over Region 7AAAAAA rival Chattahoochee. Keener tallied a team-leading 25 points with eight rebounds, four assists and no turnovers.
The pairing of Keener and backcourt partner Dylan Wolle has emerged as one of the county’s best duos. Wolle is already committed to Rollins College, while Keener has multiple offers to sort through.
Though Sequoyah boasts a solid overall record, both Keener and Carden believe the Chiefs could be even better. Two of their four losses were one-score games, while another was a six-point margin.
As an unquestioned leader for Sequoyah, Keener took the losses in stride and planned to learn from his team’s past shortcomings.
“We had three slip-ups,” he said. “We should have been 13-1. We took one to the chin against Cherokee, but other than that, it came down to one-possession games, and we had not been able to make the play to win the game. It is all a learning process, though, and those losses will benefit us late this season and into the state tournament.”
The turning point in Keener’s high school basketball career was when he transferred to Sequoyah following his sophomore year. The 6-foot-1 point guard played his freshman and sophomore seasons at Lassiter.
Once Keener became a Chief, he found a seamless fit.
“It was a whole culture change,” Keener said. “It means a lot to the people here. We always have great fans come out to support us. I feel like it is definitely more of a tight-knit thing here than it is at some other schools. The group of guys that we have here is some of the best in the state of Georgia.”
Keener has more than proven his value to Carden this season.
Following Sequoyah’s 56-55 loss to Shiloh on Dec. 28, Keener texted Carden, asking if he could get into the gym after hours for some extra work. One week later, Keener’s 25 points pushed the Chiefs over the top against Chattahoochee, which was 10-4 at the time.
Basketball IQ is among Keener’s strengths, and it has undoubtedly helped the rest of the Chiefs be more productive. Keener flirted with a triple-double in Sequoyah’s three-point win over Grovetown, finishing with 15 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. More than one of those assists came on dishes to Wolle on a night where he connected on nine 3-pointers.
“(Keener) is just such a joy to talk to,” Carden said. “He is going to be a good coach someday and is the heart and soul of our team. We have good players, but he is our heart and soul. Kyle is fun to talk to because you just do not often see such a sharp basketball mind by a kid in high school.”
Keener believes his team is in a successful position because of all the hard work behind the scenes and in the gym. The Chiefs practice six days a week, pushing themselves relentlessly to be among the county’s best.
For Sequoyah, it can take comfort in knowing that the senior point guard is all in on the 2021-22 season.
“It is about the work we put in,” Keener said. “My teammates know the end goal, and if we are going to reach these goals, I am going to help us get there. If they ever need to come to me for a workout or to go over plays, they know that I understand it. I can help us win.”