PENN LAIRD, Va. (WHSV) -- A simple announcement became an emotional afternoon for Justin Kier and his friends, family and coaches.
The Spotswood senior guard announced his plans to play college basketball at George Mason on Tuesday afternoon at the high school's auditorium. Kier chose the Atlantic-10 program over Coastal Carolina and Radford, revealing his decision by choosing a shirt with the school's name and colors from a row of four chairs that were set up on the stage of the auditorium.
"It came down to the wire and George Mason came out on top," Kier said. "I got some good things coming for coach Paulsen, a great coach. We're gonna have to rebuild but I'm excited for it."
Kier described the process as "stressful" but chose to play for the Patriots because it would allow him to play at the highest level possible. George Mason has played in the NCAA Tournament three times in the last decade.
The decision makes Kier the first Spotswood product to earn a Division I scholarship for men's basketball before graduation and the first city/county player to get an offer since Don Burgess in 1990. Burgess, a Harrisonburg graduate, joined Radford's roster in 1990 before becoming head coach at Bridgewater College. He returns to Harrisonburg this season as the school's head basketball coach.
Kier said the history-making decision was the reason why he and his family wanted to make his decision publicly.
"It's the first time. No one's ever committed before the season was over and you know just to give somebody a good feel," Kier said. "To me, I'm really proud of myself and my family for all the traveling and all that kind of stressful stuff. It's a big weight off my shoulders."
Kier's verbal commitment won't become official until he signs his letter of intent next April, which is the earliest he can submit a written commitment.
In the meantime, Kier looks forward to helping the Trailblazers on the court as the school seeks a return to the 3A state championship game after falling to George Wythe last March.