Wayne State men’s basketball power forward and psychology major Chuck Key said he has never been able to coast. Since the moment he first picked up a basketball, Key said his dad and grandfather have been extremely hard on him.
However, Key said, it has helped him emerge as this season's primary scoring weapon, averaging a team best with 14.6 points per game with six rebounds.
“As soon as I could remember running, [my dad] made me play basketball,” said Key. “We used to always play in the backyard or at [Tindal Recreation Center]. I would just throw it up because I couldn’t reach the rim then.”
Key attended Cass Technical High School and, as a senior, averaged 12 ppg and 10 rpg. Following his stint at Cass, he was tasked with choosing a school out of junior colleges, Division 1 schools and several GLIAC schools, including WSU.
“I just thought that Wayne State was the best option for me,” Key said. “It came down to playing at [Ferris State University] or here, and my parents said if you’re going to play in the GLIAC, you might as well stay home.”
Key said his first two seasons as a Warrior were underwhelming. A number of difficulties in his personal life contributed to his posting of a combined average of 6.8 ppg and 4.1 rpg.
Key said he had to adjust to being in college while also trying to cope with the loss of a close family member and the new coaching style of Head Coach David Greer.
“Coach Greer was exceptionally hard on me my freshman year,” Key said. “He used to tell me that I didn’t play hard enough and that I didn’t know anything about defense.”
He said things started to look up for him one day when he dunked on a teammate in practice, which caught the attention of Greer. As a result, Greer placed Key in the starting lineup towards the end of the 2014-15 season.
Key said he was optimistic that he would carry the success he had in the latter part of his freshman year over to his sophomore year, but it didn’t work out that way.
“I left my freshman year on a good note,” said Key. “Then, my sophomore year came, and it was the most frustrating year of my life. I didn’t have the success on the court that I wanted to have and school was getting harder.”
At the end of that frustrating sophomore year, Key said Greer told him that he could be one of the best players in the GLIAC, and that the Warriors would need that from him.
Since then, Key responded fittingly. He is currently averaging a team best of 14.6 ppg and 6.2 rpg this season on 50 percent shooting. Key also leads the team in blocked shots.
“I think I’m a lot more comfortable in going out there and knowing what I can do,” he said.
Greer said he expects that Key will have a good game whether the team wins or loses. After a loss to Michigan Tech University earlier in the season, Greer praised Key for his ability to be productive after scoring 16 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
“He’s pretty much been effective the whole year,” Greer said. “You know what you’re going to get out of Chuck.”
Along with his success on the court, Key has also made the Coach’s Honor Roll. Players who earn a 3.0-3.49 term GPA three semesters in a row are eligible.
Key recalled doing homework on the team bus during their recent stretch of games in the Upper Peninsula.
“Last week, we went to the [Upper Peninsula] and that was a 10-hour bus ride,” said Key. “I was on the bus typing discussion board posts and doing other work. You just have to know how to balance it.”
Key said he’s enjoying the success he and the team have had this season. The Warriors have secured a spot in the GLIAC tournament for the first time since 2013 following a game against Northwood University on Feb. 23.
However, Key said he doesn’t really care about his personal achievements so long as the team is successful.
“I really love being part of the team and I think a lot of people take that for granted,” Key said. “Even if I wasn’t having the success I’m having, if the team was still successful and happy, I’d be good with that.”