Keith Pickens joined the Southeast Missouri men’s basketball program as an assistant coach Tuesday.
Pickens spent the last two years in the same capacity at Missouri State.
A native of St. Louis, Pickens began his coaching career as a full-time assistant with the Bears in June 2016. Prior to that, he was an on-court standout at Missouri State from 2009-14, and then served as the team’s graduate manager for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.
“I am delighted to add Keith to our staff,” said SEMO head coach Rick Ray. “All you need to know about Keith is that while interviewing people around Keith is that one person told me ‘he is the best person that I have EVER been around.’ Keith has a great rapport with players on his team and has a real presence on the court. He has worked for someone that I trust in Paul Lusk at Missouri State therefore I know that he will conduct all of his business on and off the court with the utmost integrity. In addition, Keith is from the St. Louis area and will help us with our recruiting efforts there. We can’t wait to welcome Keith and his family to Cape Girardeau!”
Pickens played 19 games as a forward his senior year at Missouri State in 2013-14 at the end of an injury-laden career that saw him register 568 points and 253 rebounds in 111 games. He ranked 10thin school history in blocked shots (70) and led the Bears in rebounding a total of 24 times during his career.
“I am beyond excited to join the Redhawks family. I am extremely excited about the direction of this program and university,” said Pickens. “I would like to thank Coach Ray and the administration for believing in me. I’d also like to thank my wife, Nita, my family and mentors. I look forward to working with this staff and the student-athletes here at Southeast Missouri.”
Pickens was part of the 2010 CIT championship team his freshman season and was a member of the 2011 Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championship squad, although a knee injury sidelined him for the 2011 campaign. His best season came in in 2012-13 when he started 19 games, scored a career-high 183 points and grabbed 142 rebounds. Pickens also led the team in rebounding average (4.7).
After his junior season, Pickens announced his intentions to retire from basketball, but progress over the summer of 2013 and a desire to play an impactful senior season led him to return to the Bears’ rotation as a fifth-year senior. Although he did not play in the 2014 CIT, Pickens helped lead MSU to its first 20-win campaign and postseason appearance in three years.
A product of Oakville High School, Pickens averaged 15.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game while guiding his team to a 23-9 season and trip to the Missouri Class 5 final four as a senior. He was a consensus all-state selection by the MBCA and Associated Press while earning First-Team Post-Dispatch All-Metro and All-Conference laurels. Pickens’ 114 blocked shots in 2008-09 rated seventh-best among all St. Louis-area players.
Pickens graduated from Missouri State with an undergraduate degree in Sports Administration in 2013. He completed his master’s degree in Sports Management in 2016. He and his wife, Nita, are the proud parents of four children. Nita was a standout player at the University of Louisville from 2010-14 and was the 35thoverall pick by the Los Angeles Sparks in the 2014 WNBA Draft.