The Morehouse College Maroon Tigers have only lost one game this season. The 85-72 loss came at the hands of the Claflin University Panthers on Jan. 31.

Morehouse head coach Grady Brewer still takes time to think of the one thing missing that night, the one thing that could have possibly made a difference between yet another win and his team’s sole loss.

“We didn’t have Keith Heard that night,” said Brewer earlier this week. “Keith plays an integral part for this team and if we had him we would probably be undefeated right now.” The Maroon Tigers currently sit at 23-1 heading into tonight’s game against Atlanta University Center neighbor and rival Clark Atlanta University.

The good thing is that they are playing at Forbes Arena, their home court where they are currently 11-0 and if you believe coach Brewer the Maroon Tigers will be even better off because Keith Heard will be on the court for the home team.

Heard, a Sandy Creek High School alumnus is back at home in Atlanta and feeling the love after having played his freshman season at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, North Carolina. Unheralded coming out of a high powered basketball program like that of the Patriots, Heard was a big-time recruiting coup for Lees-McRae.

“Keith was a kid that if you told him to do something, he’d do it,” said former Sandy Creek High School coach Anthony McKissic who coached Heard while in high school. “The biggest deal was getting Keith to believe in himself and as his senior year went on he started to gain confidence and progress.”

One of five Sandy Creek players to get basketball scholarships that year—one Patriots starter accepted a football scholarship to Duke University. Heard wanted to go to an HBCU, preferably Morehouse College but took the free ride to the Appalachian Mountains and grew his game even more. A year later he was back in Atlanta at Morehouse.

“It was the best decision of my life to come here because this is where I’m from,” said Heard about his decision to transfer despite success as a starter for the Bobcats.

His decision to come home was clear but not exactly as romantic as one would hope.

“Morehouse College was the only school Lees-McRae would release me to,” Heard said. “I had a lot of offers from other programs but Morehouse was the only one they would allow me to go. I knew coach Brewer since I was a little kid and felt like Morehouse was a strong program and this way my family can come see me play.”

These days the Heard family is getting to see Keith come off the bench for a Maroon Tigers team that is ranked in the top 15 of the latest NCAA Division II South poll while leading the entire SIAC.

Heard has played in 23 games, started nine and is contributing two points and 1.3 rebounds per game as a reserve.

“It’s going great,” he says of his redshirt sophomore season, “All the hard work we put in this offseason, the work people don’t see is starting to pay off.”

Heard’s hard work is starting to pay off as well as his minutes are starting to increase. He played 15 minutes in the Maroon Tigers win at Clark Atlanta a few weeks ago and is expected to do the same if not more tonight against the Panthers.

“He’s really playing well and I look forward to having him on the floor more down the stretch,” Brewer said.

“Keith is not a follower,” adds McKissic who also coached Brewer’s son Xavier, a Morehouse College commit. “I believe he’ll be playing overseas one day.”

First, there’s a final home game of the season and a SIAC tournament in Birmingham to take care of. Heard will be on the court for Morehouse, no matter the capacity, and that’s a good thing for both team and player. 

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Donnell began his career covering sports and news in Atlanta nearly two decades ago. Since then he has written for Atlanta Business Chronicle, The Southern Cross...

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