NICEVILLE — When Max Keebaugh finally put pen to paper Wednesday he felt relief.
The pressure, the uncertainty all melted away. His future was secured. A senior on the Niceville basketball team, Keebaugh was going to get to play his favorite sport in college, and he didn’t have to venture too far from home to do it, signing with the University of Mobile in Mobile, Alabama.
“It was great,” said Keebaugh, his friends and family surrounding him. “It was super relieving knowing that I don’t have to worry about college anymore and making a decision.”
The Rams had been in on Keebaugh’s recruiting since he played at an AAU tournament in Atlanta this past summer, he said. They came to a few of his practices at Niceville and had a scholarship ready for him when he came to visit the campus earlier this year.
That visit, Keebaugh said, was perfect.
“(The campus has) got a real homey feel,” he said. “A lot of nice facilities and it’s not super spread out and overwhelming. It’s real nice over there.”
More importantly, Keebaugh said he vibed with Rams coach Darnel Archey immediately and respected his pedigree; Archey served as assistant men’s basketball coach at the University of South Alabama from 2013-2018 and was part of two NCAA Final Fours as director of basketball operations from 2009-2013 at Butler University.
In Archey’s first year helming Mobile, the Rams finished 13-16, including a 7-11 mark in NAIA’s Southern States Athletic Conference.
“I think he’s got a good direction for where he wants the team to go,” Keebaugh said.
In Keebaugh, Mobile is getting a 6-foot-9 forward who averaged 6.8 points and 4.6 rebounds on 43% shooting for the Eagles this past year. His 78 defensive boards led the team.
Keebaugh said he’s most looking forward to improving his game and helping his teammates make the national tournament in the coming years, while he pursues a degree in sports management and a career as a basketball coach.
“(I’d like to) start as a graduate assistant and work my way up,” he said. “I love basketball. I love being around the game, so if I can’t play after college, I’d love to be a coach.”