Keshun Sherrill had one last surprise before he graduates from Augusta University on Friday.
The all-time leading scorer in school and Peach Belt Conference history was expecting some acknowledgement at the Jaguars’ annual athletics awards banquet last Tuesday. Another Fred Barnabei Male Athlete of the Year honor and a plaque recognizing his record 2,333 career points were on the agenda.
Then they carried in a banner a couple feet taller than the 5-foot-9 guard, with his name and jersey number 10 that will be retired to the rafters of Christenberry Fieldhouse.
It came as more than a little bit of a surprise to Sherrill.
“It was a LOT of a surprise for me,” Sherrill said. “My coaches told me that the PBC commissioner was going to be there and present me with the all-time leading scorer plaque. So I was expecting that. As I received that they told me to stand there and they unveiled the retired jersey. That just overwhelmed me.”
It had to happen sooner or later. There was no way Augusta University was going to wait too long to retire Sherrill’s jersey along with the three players already honored – Ben Madgen (No. 1), A.J. Bowman (No. 23) and Keenan Mann (No. 32). Sherrill passed Madgen’s record 2,306 points in his penultimate game when the Jaguars beat Columbus State in the first round of the Division II NCAA tournament. Bowman ranks fourth on the all-time conference scoring list.
“He exemplifies all that is good about the student-athlete experience,” said Augusta director of athletics Clint Bryant.
Sherrill was already considered by head coach Dip Metress to be on his personal “Mount Rushmore” of Jaguars greats he coached along with Madgen, Bowman and 7-foot center Garret Siler. The careers of those other three overlapped during the Jaguars’ most successful reign that included three consecutive NCAA Elite Eight appearances.
Sherrill’s teams never had the same kind of depth to deliver a Peach Belt Tournament championship or a return to the Elite Eight, but he elevated the program all the same with his relentless work ethic and rhythmic pull-up jumper. Having a career worthy of a jersey retirement was not something he could have foreseen when he arrived out of Cleveland, N.C., in 2012 along with his older brother KJ Sherrill.
“I was a small-town kid coming out of high school and just grew and grew every year both on the court and off the court,” Sherrill said. “It’s led to where I am today.”
As proud as he is of his accomplishments on the court, Sherrill is most proud of the diploma with a degree in communications that he’ll receive on Friday at 2 p.m. His parents and brothers will attend that ceremony.
“I do it for my mom and dad,” he said of Rhonda and Keith Sherrill. “They’ve been with me through it all and just to finally get my degree will mean a lot to me to see them smile.”
After graduation, Sherrill is excited for whatever new adventures await him at the next level of basketball. Whether or not the NBA ever makes room for a 5-9 guard, Sherrill plans to get an agent and take his game wherever somebody is willing to pay for him to keep doing what he loves. He’ll stay in Augusta working on his game until he finds a new place to play.
“I’ll go wherever the money takes me, whether it’s NBA, D-League, overseas, anywhere,” said Sherrill, whose brother KJ played in Germany last season. “My first time getting on a plane was this season when we flew to Wichita and the second time was when I flew to South Dakota to play in the all-star game.
“Now it’s time for me to go out and see the world. Not too many people get this opportunity. For me to be able to tell my kids one day that I went and played basketball in China or Europe or somewhere is a real good feeling.”
Sherrill believes his future will remain in basketball even after he finally stops playing.
“Some parents ask me to train their kids or work out with them; I believe I have a good relationship with kids who want to get better,” Sherrill said. “All this knowledge that I have received during my years of playing basketball, I could definitely give it back to the kids.”
When it’s all over, Sherrill will always be able to return to his alma mater and see his name and number hanging above the court where he made history.
“Honestly right now it’s a real numbing feeling,” he said of the rare honor bestowed on him. “It hasn’t hit me but maybe if I’m here to see it get raised to the rafters it may hit me. It’s a real good feeling knowing that all my hard work from previous years and summers, it’s paid off.”