BOISE, Idaho — When Houston-area basketball standout R.J. Keene verbally committed to Boise State, his decision almost immediately turned into a viral sensation.
It wasn't so much because of why he chose the Broncos, but rather how he chose the Broncos.
How did Keene manage to capture the attention of the college basketball world with his commitment during a pandemic? By lining up six masks with six different logos on them and picking up the one that had Boise State's well-known Bronco head on it.
"I mean, it's crazy. This is a once in a lifetime thing," Keene said about the pandemic. "You're never going to experience something like this and it happens to land on my recruitment."
Depending on the recruiting site you visit, Keene is listed between a three and four-star recruit. Last season as a junior, he averaged 19.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.1 steals, and draining 145 three-pointers in the process.
Although he had close to two dozen college offers, Keene told KTVB that following an unofficial visit to Grand Canyon in July, his decision ultimately came down to Hawai'i and Boise State. Keene then chose the Broncos site unseen.
"That just shows how comfortable I am with the coaching staff and with the other commits there," said Keene. "It just felt like home. It's like I don't even need to visit."
"I feel like I made the perfect and right decision by coming to Boise," he added.
Editor's Note: The following interview has been edited for clarity and grammar.
JAY: RJ, before we get to your decision, I want to ask you about how you committed. Who came up with the idea to reveal your commitment by putting on a mask?
KEENE: It was probably the local news guy Ari Alexander. He helped me with that, and we ran with it. We want to do it live somewhere, and it worked out great. It's gotten a lot of love everywhere on social media. It's kind of trending and going viral.
JAY: How fitting was it? I mean, this is a unique moment in unique times I would say.
KEENE: Yeah, I mean, it's crazy. This is a once in a lifetime thing. I mean, you're never going to experience something like this and it happens to land on my recruitment. I feel like I made the perfect and right decision by coming to Boise.
JAY: Speaking of coming to Boise. Have you visited Boise before? Have you been able to get up here because of the pandemic?
KEENE: No, so I actually got offered when the pandemic was peaking. There's a current dead period right now, but I and my mom and a couple of my buddies are going to head up there July 30 and take a campus visit. I'm excited.
JAY: So what is it about committing to a place that you've never been to? I mean, what gave you the confidence to do that?
KEENE: That just shows how comfortable I am with the coaching staff and with the other commits there. It just felt like home. It's like I don't even need to visit.
JAY: What does basketball mean to you? It is a big part of your life?
KEENE: I mean I sleep, eat, breathe basketball. Basketball is in my blood. That's all I do. It's all me and my buddies do.
JAY: It sounds like basketball runs in the family. Your dad is pretty good.
KEENE: Yeah, he went to Illinois and was a McDonalds All-American. [He was] a top-five player in the country. So that's where I kind of get it from. I'm from a family of athletes. I have a younger sister who is a USA volleyball player that is committed to Baylor, which is the No. 1 school in America. So I might not be the best athlete in the house, but they run in the family.
JAY: How competitive is your house?
KEENE: Oh, it's extremely competitive! It probably the most competitive house you'll ever go to.
JAY: Tell us a little bit about your game. Who do you model it after? Who might you mimic a little bit?
KEENE: It's kind of like a mix of Luka Doncic, Gordan Hayward and Jaylen Brown all mixed together. Those are very great players, don't get me wrong, but I try to take little pieces of their game and add them to mine.
JAY: For more of like a local comparison, I've heard Justinian Jessup's name come up. Have you talked much with him much?
KEENE: Yeah I talked to him a little bit through [direct message]. He just said nothing but good things about Boise. He was like, 'this should be a no brainer for you.' I was like, 'Just to let you know, I'm coming.' That was like about a week ago. I'm excited. He's showed them 7-foot-7 dudes can put it in the rim. He broke all of Jimmer's [Fredette] records and hopefully I can do the same.
Watch more Boise State Basketball:
See all of our Boise State basketball coverage in our YouTube playlist: