BELLEVILLE — One of most sought-after junior college players in the nation during the 2012-13 season, Southwestern Illinois College sophomore Keanau Post said his recruiting process was difficult at times.
But in the end his final decision was not.
"When you know in your heart it's the right place, it's not a tough decision,'' Post said.
For the 6-foot-11, 260-pound Post, the right decision is the University of Missouri.
Ranked as one of the top five junior college players in the nation by many of the top scouting services, Post made his official visit to the Columbia, Mo., this weekend and gave Tigers coach Frank Haith a verbal commitment to play for Missouri, beginning in the 2012-13 season.
"Why Missouri? Sometimes it just happens where a place seems right. I really liked Coach Haith and the players,'' Post said. "One of the main reasons was that Coach Haith and the rest of his coaching staff really care about their players. I could tell that by the way they interact with each other.''
A native of Victoria, British Columbia, Post is considered a raw talent, having played organized basketball for just five years. This season, Post is averaging 12 points and 10 points per game for a SWIC team which is 9-2 entering a game at Rend Lake College on Monday.
Post said Sunday that his final three schools were Missouri, Georgetown and Illinois. Both Illinois and Georgetown recently received verbal commitments from other inside players. Post also considered Iowa State, Oregon, Oklahoma State, Washington and Auburn
"I made an unofficial visit to Oklahoma State and the facilities were amazing and coaching staff was great,'' Post said. "That part of it (the process) was great. The coaches and schools that recruited me were all very good people with top-level programs.
"Sometimes you know when the time is right. This was the right time for me to make this decision."
Post will be joining a Missouri program which is among the best in the nation. The Tigers (11-2) are ranked 12th in the Associated Press poll.
Post's career got off to a bit of a shaky start at SWIC after he had surgery on both knees in August 2011. Slowed by the injuries, Post saw limited playing time during the first half of the 2011-12 season.
But an offseason of working on his game, along with some impressive performances at junior college showcases, Post quickly drew notice from many of the nation's top programs.
"I didn't know how good Keanau would be when he arrived here. I saw a lot of potential and a desire to learn,'' Blue Storm coach Jay Harrington said. "How good Keanau would become would depend on his work ethic and he had a tremendous work ethic.''
Recruited more than two years ago by SWIC assistant coach Steve Campo out of West Wind Academy in Phoenix, Post is the latest in a long list of SWIC players to earn college scholarships.
Post is the 76th NCAA Division I player who has played for Harrington in his 35 years as a head coach, first at Wabash Valley College and now for over 30 years at SWIC.
Harrington has helped over 100 other players earn scholarships at NCAA Division II and Division III as well as NAIA programs.
But the interest in Post by major Division I programs was the most-ever seen at SWIC.
"It was the toughest year it's ever been because of the number of teams who were interested in Keanau and so many top programs who were interested in him. He and his family are happy with the decision and if he is, I am too,'' Harrington said. "Coach (Steve) Campo and I work very hard to get kids into (basketball) programs at all levels. We're just interested in getting our kids scholarships.''
While a lot of players are not happy competing at the junior-college level, Post said playing at SWIC has been one of his best decisions.
"I can't tell you what it has meant to me to be able to play at SWIC. I was raw when I got here and while I still have to improve in all areas of my game, I'm getting the opportunity to play at a Division I school,'' Post said. "I am eternally grateful to coach Harrington, coach Campo and coaches Bobby (Belleville), Norm (Toenjes) and Ramon (Kelly). I feel very close to all of them.''
Post is majoring in sports management and would like to either coach or own a sports academy in the future.