Al Key’s record-setting basketball career was capped by the Barton Community College sophomore guard being named Monday as a third-team National Junior College Athletic Association Division-I All-America selection for the second straight season.
Key joins a select short list, becoming only the second player in Barton history to achieve that feat, joining former Cougars player Robert Whaley, who was a first-team All-America pick in 2001-02.
“It’s a great honor to be named once again on the All-America team,” said Key, who averaged 17.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists this past season for the Cougars, who posted a 28-6 record, including advancing to the NJCAA Region VI title game in March.
Key helped lead the Cougars to a 54-13 record, including back-to-back Region VI Final Four finishes. Along with the two-time national award, Key also was a repeat Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference West Division first-team selection, and also repeated on the all-region teams and the region all-tournament teams.
Tabbed for the Jayhawk West freshman of the year award in 2012, Key led the Cougars in scoring (18.7 points per game), assists (164) and steals (160) while ranking as the team’s second-leading rebounder (216). After undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, Key came back and again led the Cougars.
“My scoring average was about the same, but I don’t feel like I played as well as I did last year,” Key said. “Last year, I felt like I had more on my shoulders or whatever because I knew if I didn’t come out and have a good game or (Dwayne) Brunson (former Barton standout now at Fort Hays State University) didn’t come out and have a good game, we were more likely to lose.
“I had to do a lot of scoring last year, but this season, we had enough talent around the whole team where anybody could lead us in scoring, which happened with Andell (Cumberbatch), Turon (Parker) and Raheem (Johnson) coming up big.”
A Decatur, Ga., native, Key assaulted the Barton record books in his two seasons, leaving the Cougars program atop the chart for career free throws attempted (536) and made (371), the top two spots in single-season free throws attempted (280 in 2012 and 256 in 2013). He also owns the third and fourth spots in single-season foul shots made (189 in 2012 and 182 in 2013).
A unique balance of scoring and distributing, Key also finished fourth on the Barton career list in scoring (1,214 points) and assists (315).
Playing in 67 games, Key recorded one triple-double, 13 double-doubles and had 27 games of scoring 20 or more points, including six reaching the 30-point plateau.
Heavily recruited, Key is being courted by several NCAA Division-I schools, including Alabama, Georgia, Texas Christian, Arizona State, Mississippi and Auburn.
Key says he’s planning visits this month to Alabama and Georgia.
“I’m a combination guard,” Key said. “I’d rather play point (guard), but with (Barton, they used me a lot of different ways.
“Sometimes I feel that I have to score at certain points of the game. That’s when I need to be more aggressive. At other times, I look to get my teammates the ball first. Scoring is not really a big deal to me.”