Keegan Hyland, a former All-State basketball player from South Portland, has left Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., after lingering effects from a concussion suffered just before the season opener.
He’s now looking to play at a lower-level Division I school in the East.
Hyland, who told school officials last week that he wouldn’t return, was a freshman scholarship player for Gonzaga, a leading Division I program. The school released him from his scholarship.
Hyland is looking to sign with another program before the second semester so he won’t have to sit out all of next season.
Hyland said he would make an official visit to Maine today and Vermont on Thursday. He said he’s also been taking calls from other schools in the East.
“I’m going to have to see which one is the best fit,” said Hyland, who returned home Saturday. “I’ll probably make a decision by this time next week.”
Maine (7-6), considered a contender in America East this season, will be home today against Hartford at 7 p.m. at Alfond Arena.
The Black Bears will lose two high-profile players from the state – Troy Barnies of Auburn and Sean McNally of Gardiner – to graduation after this season.
Along with the concussion that persisted longer than expected, Hyland said he didn’t like being so far from home.
“I didn’t think it would bother me, but I found out that I wanted to be closer,” he said. “It just wasn’t the right fit. I feel playing on the East Coast will be much better. My parents and friends can come see me play.”
Hyland, a 6-foot-3 guard, was injured during a scrimmage before the first game. Early in fall camp, Hyland had a knee problem. Then came the concussion.
“I dove for a loose ball and someone hit me from behind,” he said. “My head hit the floor. At first I didn’t think much about it and continued to play. But that night I didn’t have any balance and was dizzy with headaches.”
Hyland said he was suffering from post- concussion syndrome. The dizziness and headaches went on for more than a month.
“I couldn’t start playing until the headaches and dizziness went away. It was just a difficult situation and being so far away from home didn’t help,” he said.
“I was so far behind in playing that the season was lost. Even though things didn’t work out, I learned a lot. The school was fine. I enjoyed it a lot.”
With Gonzaga well-stocked with backcourt players and a strong recruiting class also loaded with guards, Hyland likely sensed a struggle to get playing time if he had stayed.
The good news is the dizziness and headaches are gone and Hyland has begun working out.
This is the second straight year Hyland has been sidelined. He missed all but three games last season for South Portland High because of a hairline fracture of the pelvic bone.
He returned in the final game of the regular season to lead an upset of unbeaten Cheverus, and soon after scored 32 points in his final game as the Riots lost to Westbrook in the Western Class A semifinals.
Hyland averaged 27.7 points per game as a junior and finished as the Riots’ all-time leading scorer with 1,110 points.
Hyland said last year’s injury has healed completely.
Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at: [email protected]