Olson commits to Northern Arizona | NevadaAppeal.com

Olson commits to Northern Arizona

by Joey Crandall
Nevada Appeal News Service

Douglas High basketball standout Keith Olson has verbally committed to play for Northern Arizona University next year.

Olson, who at 6 feet, 10 inches, has been one of Douglas’ most highly-recruited basketball players ever, made the call Tuesday and will sign with the Lumberjacks on Nov. 8.

“It’s a big relief to have that out of the way,” Olson said Wednesday. “It was really important for me to get the decision out of the way before the season started. I wanted to go into this year just focused on our season.

“I didn’t want to worry about who was coming to watch and if I had a bad game, who would see it. I just wanted to come out and have fun, play the game and not worry about who is there.”

Northern Arizona, located in Flagstaff, Ariz., is coached by Mike Adras, who has been at NAU for 14 years (he took over as head coach seven years ago after current UCLA coach Ben Howland left), and played and coached at Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman.

The Lumberjacks won the Big Sky Conference regular-season crown last season before losing in the conference tournament to Montana. Montana later knocked out Nevada in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

“The players there are incredible,” Olson said. “They treated me like a teammate and not just as some recruit. The coaches made me feel at home.

“It was just a feeling when I was there, I can’t explain it. I knew it was the right place. They were in there consistently and they were one of the first schools to come at me pretty strong.”

Olson received strong interest from Utah State, Pacific, Portland State and Montana as well.

“Utah State was in until they signed another student and Montana came up with a couple of big guys a while back so they dropped out,” he said. “Pacific said I was a couple of guys down on their list and they asked me to wait and see, but I didn’t want to put NAU on hold and have a chance of losing that.”

The three-time All-Region honoree said he appreciated the college town atmosphere in Flagstaff, and the opportunity to play in a competitive conference with an automatic NCAA bid and a lucrative non-conference schedule.

“The town is kind of like Lake Tahoe,” Olson said. “It felt comfortable and I felt safe. The campus is nice, you don’t have to walk all over the place.

“The Big Sky is a great conference, too. Every night you have to go in for a tough game. NAU is a great mid-major school. I’m looking forward to playing there.”

Northern Arizona has played major schools like UCLA, UNLV, Arizona and Arizona State in the last few years and has made one NCAA Tournament appearance under Adras, while playing for the conference championship twice.

Olson said he is thinking about going into the business program there, but hasn’t decided where he will take that.

He’s said he was happy to be able to put an end to the recruiting process and focus on the upcoming Douglas Tiger basketball season.

“It was exciting at times and there were some times where I was very nervous and stressing out,” he said. “There were times where there’d be about two weeks without a call and you start wondering if something is happening or if you missed something. It was a great process though, just a great time of my life.

“We have some high expectations as a team this year and hopefully we can go out and play well.”