Missouri State's Pickens Will End His Basketball Career After This Season
March 1, 2013
SPRINGFIELD -- Missouri State men's basketball standout Keith Pickens (Jr., F, St. Louis, Mo.) announced Friday (March 1) that he will conclude his playing career at the end of the current season due to chronic knee pain and retire from the game. The Bears will recognize Pickens as part of Saturday's Senior Night activities prior to the team's 7:05 p.m. game against Bradley at JQH Arena.
"Physically, I'm not healthy enough to make it through another season," Pickens said. "I have tried to work through the chronic pain I have, and I knew without making progress this year retiring from the game might be a possibility. I've tried everything over the last two years, and physically I'm just unable to perform at the level I want."
Pickens ruptured his left patellar tendon during off-season conditioning in his hometown in August of 2010. He missed the entire 2010-11 season after recovering from surgery to repair the injury. He returned to action last season and played 29 of the Bears' 32 games, starting 11, while averaging 4.8 points and 4.4 rebounds. However, Pickens explained that his body physically overcompensated for the knee injury, which has rolled into other injuries.
"For the last two years, I've gone through daily rehab, had chronic knee pain, hip spasms, back problems, you name it," Pickens explained. "On a regular day, I have trouble walking, I can't bend down, squat or get out of a chair. Just getting ready for practice or a game takes a long time."
In spite of his physical limitations, Pickens has led the Bears in rebounding 11 times this season. He is currently averaging 5.8 points and a team-best 4.9 rebounds to go with 14 blocks. In Valley games, he is averaging 7.3 points this winter and leading the club with 5.4 boards against league foes.
"It's really amazing what Keith has been able to do on the court in spite of everything he's been through physically," said Bears' head coach Paul Lusk. "We're certainly going to miss the energy and leadership he brings. It's easy to forget that he has been part of this team for four years and has been part of some special moments with this program."
Saturday's game will be Pickens' 90th for MSU. He has amassed 427 career points, 336 rebounds and 43 blocked shots. During his tenure with the Bears, he has made 44 starts and was a member of the 2010 CIT championship team while providing support during the club's Missouri Valley Conference title run in 2010-11.
“Keith has made a very mature decision, and it’s always difficult to end your playing career prematurely," said Missouri State Director of Athletics Kyle Moats. "This is ultimately about his quality of life. I think I speak for everyone in saying we'll miss Keith's effort, guts and determination. I really hope our fans will offer him and (senior) Anthony Downing a proper sendoff on Saturday night and show their appreciation for what these guys have meant to our program."
Pickens, who is scheduled to complete his undergraduate degree in entertainment management this August, said ending this season on a good note is now his top priority.
"Basketball is a part of who I am, so this was not an easy decision," he said. "I'm going to give everything I have these last few games and show our fans how much they've meant to me and how much I love being a Bear."
Senior Night festivities will begin approximately 15 minutes prior to tipoff Saturday. Tickets are available now at MissouriStateTix.com, at the Chevy Pickup Window at JQH Arena and by phone at (417) 836-7678 during regular box office hours. Upper-level tickets are available starting at just $2 as part of MSU's Fan Appreciation Night promotion.