Nov. 9, 2005
James Keefe, a 6-8, 220-pound forward from Santa Margarita Catholic HS (Rancho Santa Margarita) who is considered one of the nation's top-rated power forwards entering his senior high school season, has signed a National Letter of Intent to attend UCLA, Bruin head coach Ben Howland announced Wednesday. Wednesday is the first day of the early signing period that extends until Nov. 16.
Under head coach Jerry DeBusk, Keefe led the Eagles in March to a second consecutive CIF Southern Section Div. III-AA Championship (28-5 overall), averaging 17.0 points, 12.3 rebounds and 3.7 blocked shots. Santa Margarita Catholic HS advanced to the second round of the CIF Southern California Regionals (Div. III) as Keefe earned State Junior Player of the Year honors and was first-team All-Serra League.
"I'm elated that James is joining our program," said Howland. "He's an outstanding player, a great person and an excellent student. James plays hard, is an outstanding rebounder, a good defender and plays very intelligently. His attitude and work ethic are going to help him improve and get better and better year-in and year-out"
A recent first-team Long Beach Press-Telegram Best in the West Selection, Keefe is rated the No. 27 high school player in the nation by Bob Gibbons' All-Star Sports Top 100.
Entering 2005-06, his other preseason prep honors include - Street & Smith All-American (second team), The Sporting News' No. 36 player in the U. S., Scout.com No. 37 player in the U. S. (No. 11 power forward in the U. S.) and Athlon Sports No. 38 player in the U. S.
Last summer, Keefe participated in the Gibbons' Memorial Weekend Tournament, playing for the title-winning Southern California All-Stars. He also played in the adidas All-America Camp in Suwanee, GA and with his high school team in the Reebok Las Vegas Big Time Tournament (an all-tourney choice) in July.
"Keefe puts as much energy and focus into his performance while screening for teammates and playing defense, as he does when the ball is in his possession," said Frank Burlison, national basketball columnist for Scout.com, long-time sportswriter for the Long Beach Press-Telegram and a member of the USBWA Hall of Fame. "He'll need to make fewer adjustments, especially on defense, than almost any other player in the class to be an immediate contributor in college. Keefe has been extremely well-coached by Jerry DeBusk and should make an immediate impact with the Bruins, perhaps even as a starter at some point during his freshman season."