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After going west, young man, Keegan Hyland is bringing his immense basketball talents back to New England.
Hyland, the former South Portland talent, 2009 South Portland Winter Male Athlete of the Year and all-time leading Red Riots’ scorer, gave traditional Division I power Gonzaga the old college try, but in the end, has decided to play at and attend the University of Vermont.
After missing almost all of the 2009-10 season with injury and a protracted selection process last spring, Hyland decided on Gonzaga, which has stolen March headlines for over a decade, but his progression was hampered by a concussion. That, combined with a desire to be closer to home led him back to New England.
“It was a great experience (at Gonzaga),” said Hyland. “A great taste of top-level basketball. Being on a team ranked in the top 25 was really special, something pretty cool coming from a small town in Maine. I loved a lot of things out there, but being so far from home wasn’t great for me and I sustained a conscussion and that held me out of play. I knew I’d be out of most of this year. I thought I might transfer at the end of the year anyway. I tried to save eligibility by coming back.”
Hyland nearly wound up at Vermont originally so reconnecting with the school came easily.
“The ability to win the league every year and get to the NCAA tournament is special,” he said, of what made UVM alluring. “It’s a great group of guys. The coaching staff has had success. The atmosphere of the school and academics were really appealing to me.”
Hyland can’t play for the Catamounts until December, due to NCAA rules on transfers, but he’s already back to 100 percent and will be eager to go next season.
“I’m doing well now,” he said. “I feel really good. I’m doing full workouts. My head’s feeling good. My hip’s good from last year. I’m ready to stay healthy and ready to roll at Vermont.”
In the meantime, Hyland has been a regular at local games (he was spotted at Tuesday night’s showdown between top contenders Cheverus and Thornton Academy in Saco). He’s managed to see his alma mater (which features Tanner Hyland, his younger brother) play on a couple occasions and thinks the Red Riots have a chance to make noise in the weeks to come.
“They have a lot of work on,” Hyland said. “They’re young. It depends on turning the ball over. When they don’t and when they play aggressive, they play really well.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org