Every good team, whether it’s a basketball team or the team that put men on the moon, is made up of different personalities and people of different skill sets. Oakland basketball is no exception. The superstars and the front-page men, Trey Townsend and Jalen Moore, fill the stat sheets and make the big plays. You’re guaranteed to see either one of them sitting right next to coach Greg Kampe in the postgame presser. The specialists, Chris Conway and Blake Lampman, contribute in necessary situations as masters of their craft. Conway is the best paint guy Oakland has and Lampman’s three-pointer can be the stuff of legend.
But one group of people, one single skill set, is the most vital aspect of a good basketball team.
The glue guy, the one that holds the team together as a collective. Keaton freaking Hervey.
Image Courtesy of goldengrizzlies.com
What is the glue guy Keaton Hervey’s skill set exactly? The answer: What do you need Hervey to be in that moment? He can be your points leader. Just look at the games against Defiance, where he scored 19; Missouri State, where he dropped 24; even look at the game against blue blood Michigan State, where he spark-plugged a vicious comeback attempt with an astounding 16 points against the Spartan defense. Hervey can be your rebounds leader. He led the team in rebounding with 8 against Michigan State, 6 against San Jose State, 9 against Eastern Michigan, and 11 against Bowling Green. Heck, he can even be your fouls leader! I’m not going to put up those numbers, because that’s mean. It’s not that he has a lot, which he doesn’t, but there’s no room for a smear campaign at WXOU. To be a glue guy means having a true love for the game, which Hervey displays with gusto every single night to the raucous crowds of the O’Rena. But it wasn’t always that way.
Growing up in Texas, basketball came second to skateboarding. That was until a grade-school basketball coach saw basketball talent in the young man, but it came at a sacrifice of skateboarding due to the obvious and heightened risk of injury. Continued development led to him playing basketball at University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio. Hervey redshirted his second year and subsequently transferred to Missouri State University, playing there for two years before transferring to Oakland.
Keaton Hervey attributes his all-around play to his versatility and working within the dynamics of the team, saying that coach Greg Kampe places trust in him to be Oakland’s fixer. By playing the role of the fixer, Hervey not only accelerates his ability to play his game, he helps improve the way his teammates play their game. When asked about the size differential against his in-game opponents, notably Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2022 Moussa Cisse, who stands at a staggering 7’1”, Hervey mentioned that he never thought his size as a forward was an issue, and credits his high motor for his ability to go toe-to-toe with the literal giants of basketball.
To play the glue guy part well, one needs both aptitude and experience, both of which Hervey displays in spades. It’s fairly obvious that a gentleman who graduates with a math-heavy major and has discussed potentially pursuing an MBA is intelligent, but doing so while juggling being a Division I athlete is another feat on its own. It’s a testament to one’s drive to be able to excel in this pathway. Aptitude is a subtle thing in basketball, unlike the academic world. It shows when you are playing off-ball, making a read that sets up a great basket, and then turning around and quickly adjusting to an opponent’s offense. Hervey displays this in almost every game, notably Eastern Michigan and Michigan State. Experience is just time-based, and being a grad transfer, Hervey has been around three different programs and seen how different coaches explain tactics and motivate their players. For young guys, per Hervey, it’s a matter of being a sponge, having an open mindset, and continuing to persevere when the outcome is not in their favor. How does experience play a role in being the glue guy? Hervey seems to know how everyone is going to move and seems to recognize his teammates’ strengths.
In the hardest role and the most time-consuming role of being a glue guy, Hervey is probably one of the best in the Horizon League, and continued success by him and the teammates he makes better, those preseason goals the team set don’t seem so distant.
Look for Hervey to continue his performances as the season reaches its most critical points.