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Former Assumption standout gets chance at Philander Smith College


Former Assumption High basketball player Riley House will have an opportunity to play at NAIA school Philander Smith College of Little Rock, Ark., this season. (Photo by Philander Smith College.)


Four years after graduating from Assumption, Riley House is finally getting his chance to suit up for a college basketball program.

House, a former Assumption High all-district basketball standout who graduated in 2009, attended Southern University of Baton Rouge and Frank Phillips College of Texas in the last four years, but he never got on the court due to various academic issues and injuries.

After waiting so long, House said he will have an opportunity to play at NAIA school Philander Smith College of Little Rock, Ark., this season. He is a junior shooting guard who has two years of college eligibility left.

After experiencing all of the setbacks with previous college stops, House said he knew his chance would come.

"It really means a lot to me," House said. "A lot of people believed in me, and I believed in myself, so I kept following my faith in God. My mom (Francis Keyes) always told me your time is coming. Just keep doing what you're doing. She supported me through everything I do."

While waiting for his chance, the 6-foot House said he took advantage of the time to become a student of the game.

"Over the years, I've really grown and expanded my knowledge of the game," he said. "I came up and I know more now, so I think it is the right time for me. I saw back and learned and developed more."

House said his chance came when Philander Smith coach Sam Weaver attended a workout held in Baton Rouge earlier this year. At the time, House said he was attending Southern University and working out with LSU men's basketball players Shavon Coleman, a former Thibodaux High standout, and Anthony Hickey.

"I just worked hard," House said. "Coach Weaver came down to LSU and watched me workout. Shavon Coleman, that's like one of my best friends, and Anthony Hickey. We lived together last year, so I basically was around LSU basketball the whole season last year. They really helped me get back into playing and getting back into shape."

House, a 22-year-old, said Weaver was impressed with the workout and invited him to play at Philander Smith.

"He gave me an opportunity to go there. I'm blessed," House said. "Coach Weaver is a good motivator and teacher. He teaches you not to quit. That's who you want to play for. He just wants to play hard and do what you've got to do."

Philander Smith, a member of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC), is coming off of one of the school's most successful seasons. The Panthers had a 25-7 overall record, finished as regular season co-conference champions with Xavier University of Louisiana, won the GCAC Tournament title and advanced to the NAIA Men's Division I Basketball Championship tournament.

House, who is expected to come off the bench this season, said he believes he will fit in perfectly with Philander Smith.

"We are an up-tempo team," he said. "That's my style of play. We get up and down the floor. We scrap every chance we can. It's a running team, and it's going to be a really good season for me and the team as well. I really think we can go far. We've got all the pieces and everything you need. This is probably the best team I've ever played on."

The Panthers start their season against Rhema Bible College on Oct. 31. They also play in the same conference as Xavier, Dillard University and Southern University of New Orleans, which House said will give him a chance to play close to home this season.

House, who received looks to attend Pensacola Junior College, Butler Community College of Kansas and Jacksonville College of Texas, said Weaver, his family and several mentors such as Gil Verner, Joe Harrison and Robert Kirby (former LSU assistant coach who is now at the University of Memphis) for helping him along the way.

"I thank everybody that believed in me," he said. "I'm a small town kid from Louisiana just trying to make a living. I feel good about that. I felt like it was the right move for me."