COLUMBIA — The last time Keaton Grant was in Mizzou Arena, the stands were not all the way up, the practice gym was incomplete and the weight room was empty.
It was still enough to convince the guard from Kissimmee, Fla., to sign a National Letter of Intent to play for Missouri. That was in 2004.
On Saturday, Grant finally made his Mizzou Arena debut. Only the black-and-gold uniform he was wearing said “Purdue” on the front.
Grant was set to join the Missouri team in 2005 with Matt Lawrence and Leo Lyons when he found out he didn’t meet the academic requirements: His ACT score was one point too low.
That fall Grant enrolled at Bridgton Academy, a prep school in Maine, with intentions of joining Missouri in 2006. He soon changed his mind.
“When I went up there I didn’t know my prep school team was that good and how much exposure they give you, so I backed out of my recruitment,” Grant said.
Missouri still talked to Grant — Melvin Watkins kept in contact even after former coach Quin Snyder resigned — but his mind was set on Purdue.
“I think Missouri and Purdue have got a lot of similarities. It’s just a family environment, nice facilities, a nice college campus,” Grant said. “But just the family environment — I was looking for a big family. I was going away from home, so I was just looking for a place I could call home.”
He found it in West Lafayette, Ind. As a freshman last season, Grant started 21 games and averaged 4.4 points and 2.2 rebounds. This season, Grant is the most senior member of Purdue’s starting lineup. He scored Purdue’s first five points in its 73-63 loss to Missouri and finished with 13, the second highest total of his career.
“I think that’s just what you are going to see from now on is being more aggressive,” Grant said. “I told myself about two or three games back just to be more aggressive. I think that’s what my team needs for me to do.”
Grant missed the first game of the season to suspension but has come into form lately, scoring 15 and 11 points in Purdue’s last two games.
“He’s not real fast, but he has a good body and he just has a good feel for the game,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “We were fortunate to get him.”
Grant said this game brought back lots of memories and he only has good things to say about Missouri, but he has no regrets about ending up at Purdue.
“I want to take it to a whole new level and I want to bring my teammates with me,” Grant said. “We’re real young, they’re learning and I want them to learn through me. I want to be an example; I want to be a leader for them. So it’s a whole new thing.”