September 12, 2012

Vernon ready for Wyoming visit

While Charlie Sheen may have coined the term for different reasons, "winning," seems to reflect the basketball career of Tulare (Calif.) power forward Keonta Vernon.

The 6-foot-6, 215-pound Vernon helped his Tulare Union squad to the state title game and a 29-6 mark last season, thanks to averages of 19 points, 14.3 rebounds, 4.6 blocked shots and three assists per game.

The past two summers his AAU team, Double Pump, went 44-2.

The Wyoming basketball coaches are hoping Vernon can bring some wins to Laramie starting in the 2013 season. For now, they will settle for him bringing an open mind to Laramie for his official visit this weekend. It will be the second time this week Vernon and the Cowboy coaches have talked this week.

"(UW Coach Larry Shyatt) were just over for a home visit last night," Vernon said. "Coach said I was a very underrated player and I should be getting looked at by more top-notch schools. He wants to develop my game to become a better player and a better person. He said the school had a great education and he said they want me and they want me to come in and help build this program.

"I am hoping to see (at UW) a beautiful campus, great players and players that want to go to the NCAA Championships and win the Conference Championship."

Vernon said he likes the Wyoming coaching staff and the Mountain West Conference, and is looking forward to his visit, one of four he has set thus far. Last weekend Northern Arizona got him to Flagstaff for his first visit. Santa Clara, Seattle and Santa Barbara visits are yet to come in anticipation of a final announcement planned for his birthday, Oct. 14.

"Flagstaff was beautiful," Vernon said. "I loved the players and the coaching staff. They are pretty high on my list at this point and I am looking forward to seeing the other schools on my list."

Scholarship offers have not been hard for Vernon to come by. Wyoming, Northern Arizona, Cal-Poly, UC-Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Drake, Seattle and Fresno State have all offered.

"The main thing for me is I am looking for a coaching staff and players that can make a family atmosphere," Vernon said. "Family is the most important thing in my life and if I go somewhere I want it to feel like my family. On the court, I like high-tempo offense and straight man-to-man defense."

Vernon said he was his high school team's starting center last season as he was the tallest player on the team, and played both forward positions this summer. When asked what separated him from other players, he said his work ethic and pointed to his daily 5:30 a.m. workouts and an ability to get rebounds.

"I have a knack for getting rebounds," Vernon said. "I like to keep my team up and when you least expect it, I will attack you and do something amazing."

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