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Bonner's Deuce Ketner finds a school that wants him in Millersville

05/08/2024, 10:45am EDT
By Joseph Santoliquito

By Joseph Santoliquito (@JSantoliquito)

When it came down to it, Deuce Ketner wanted to go to a school that genuinely wanted him. The 6-foot-7 Bonner-Prendie all-Catholic League forward grew tired of unfulfilled promises by Division I schools, and frustrated over playing the waiting game with the overflow of players in the transfer portal that were clogging up the recruiting process.

So, last week, May 1, Ketner made it public that he had committed to Millersville University, a Division II program.

He chose Millersville over another Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) squad, Lock Haven.

Deuce Ketner (10) committed to Millersville earlier this month. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

“I feel Millersville is the best option for me to develop as a person and as a player,” said Ketner, who had a strong senior season, averaging a team-high 17.5 points, with nine rebounds and two assists per game, in the Philadelphia Catholic League, the strongest league in the state.

“The coaching staff and the coach that they have is very good,” Ketner continued. “He does not take any BS. The stuff that I have a problem with is his strength. I think coach (Casey Stitzel) are going to go together very well.

“People say I take plays off, and my weakness is my motor. His strength is turning on people’s motors and keeping it on. I feel my best basketball is ahead of me.”

The Millersville staff is projecting Ketner, the son of the late Lari Ketner, the NBA and Roman Catholic star, to be a versatile shooting guard, small forward or power forward. At Bonner, because of his size, he sometimes played with his back to the basket. Between sixth to seventh grade, he went from 5-foot-5 to 6-2, and a foot size of six to 10½.

Deuce admitted he was growing frustrated. Numerous Division I schools were showing interest in him, though no coaching staff fully committed to him. Time was passing and he started to question whether basketball was in his future.

“I really did start to question is this basketball thing really for me,” Deuce said. “I felt like everyone looked over me, that no one wanted a project to put in their time to develop their players. It is like college coaches do not want to do that anymore, because of the transfer portal.

“If you are not top-150 high school, finding a college coming out of high school is even tougher if all the guys in the transfer portal, from junior college players to D-III, D-II, D-I, prep school players [are] moving up. It leads a lot to players like me getting pushed back. Everyone that was talking to me stopped talking to me out of the blue. I got cut off for guys in the transfer portal, like everything I did did not count.”

Billy Cassidy, Bonner-Prendie’s coach, feels Millersville is a great fit for Ketner. Under Stitzel, the Marauders have become a top three program in the PSAC, finishing 24-7 overall last year and second in the PSAC East locked in a three-way tie with Lock Haven, the regular-season winner based on tiebreakers, and East Stroudsburg.

The Marauders reached the PSAC Final Four, where they lost to eventual PSAC champion Gannon. Millersville did qualify for the D-II NCAA Tournament, losing in the first round to West Liberty. Former Widener assistant coach and Chestnut Hill College star Dexter Harris is one of the Millersville assistant coaches and no doubt had some influence in recruiting Ketner.

The Marauders had two locals on last season’s roster, Episcopal Academy’s Matt Dade, a 6-6 senior forward who led the team in scoring, averaging 18.6 points a game, and Upper Dublin’s Drew Stover, a 6-8 junior forward who was third in scoring, averaging 13 points a game.

“Deuce was getting D-I looks and the way the process was going, he wanted to make a decision sooner rather than to wait later, and Millersville is a good fit,” Cassidy said. “They see him as a one through five type of player. Deuce really enjoyed his visit at Millersville. Deuce is definitely a D-I caliber of player. But the way the system is right now, I am proud he did not overlook going D-II (where his brother, Tairi, just finished at Holy Family this past season).”

Deuce said he thought about going the junior college route, since he did not have anything substantial offers early in the year. But when Millersville and Lock Haven came into the picture, going the junior college route or to a prep school went away.

“I’m sticking with Millersville, because Millersville stuck with me,” Deuce said. “At first, I will admit, it took a little convincing to think about D-II. But when you look at the transfer portal with D-I players all around changing schools, and if you are not a top 150 high school player, getting a D-I look is pretty hard.

“College coaches are looking down the bench at other D-I teams before they look at high school kids. It’s why I started looking at the PSAC. I began looking at the players in D-II and seeing that a lot of D-II schools play the same quality as low D-Is, and some the quality D-IIs play probably higher than low D-Is. The competition is there.”


Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area and president of the Boxing Writers Association of America, who began writing for CoBL in 2021. He can be followed on Twitter here.

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