Keller Plans to Make Announcement Today

Dominique Keller made a mid-week visit to Champaign to check out the Illini. After he left town, InsideIllini.com got in touch with the low-post performer to find out what he thought of his trip and what might be in his future. Check inside for more on our question and answer session.



InsideIllini.com:
Where did you play in high school and who recruited you coming out of high school?

Keller:
I played my high school basketball for Port Arthur Memorial HS in Texas. My senior year, the first twelve games of the season I was averaging 37 ppg. I scored 30 or more four times, a lot of people didn't know about me because I wasn't well known at the time. By the end of my senior year the schools that were interested in me were Texas, Miami, Colorado State, UTEP and Texas A&M. At the end of my senior year I was ranked 30th in the state which I don't think was too bad, for having a major breakout year.

InsideIllini.com:
What do you think your strengths will be if you played for Illinois next year?

Keller:
I always could score. It comes naturally to me. But after watching Illinois play, I think they need me to play good defense, rebound and bring some energy to the team. Next year, they will need that.

InsideIllini.com:
Have you ever played in an offense like the one Bruce Weber runs?

Keller:
During my time in high school, all we ran was motion. I've run it my entire life. We run in it college. I like it because the coaches I have turn me lose. It's an offense that you can score a lot of points in if you move without the ball and learn to read your teammates. But from what I can tell from Coach Weber, you better play defense if you want to play for him.

InsideIllini.com:
Did the staff tell you if you play for Illinois where would you line up?

Keller:
I see myself playing the 4 [power forward]. With Alex and Jamar, who can shoot, and Demetri and Chester back next year, they need a low-post guy. They don't need me at the three, and I'm OK with that.

InsideIllini.com:
You were able to watch them practice and work out last week, what were your thoughts of Jamar and Alex?

Keller:
Oh man… I got to shoot around with them yesterday and I think Jamar is one of the best shooters in the country, no question about it. I could not believe what I saw watching him shoot. He shot seven NBA treys in a row and drained them all. As a matter of fact, they were two feet behind NBA three-point range. He can shoot the heck out of the ball, that was amazing to see. Alex, people are going to love his game. Man, I don't know who's better between the two, Alex's mid-range game is sick. He made 20 jump shots in a row without a miss, from everywhere on the court. Scoring will not be a problem next year.

InsideIllini.com:
Who did you spend most of your time with on your visit?

Keller:
I was with Alex and Jamar most of the time. Those two guys were great, they were stressing to me a lot how much they needed a physical guy to play with them next year, and they told me they need a good four-man. They were honest and real with me, I like that. We all talked yesterday about shocking people and getting Illinois back to the Final Four where they belong. Those two guys made me feel like they were my friends for life.

InsideIllini.com:
What about your impressions of the Coaches?

Keller:
They're laid back, but I know they're going to press me to be good in the Big Ten and the national level. Coach Weber is a good guy, he reminds me of my grandfather and that can't get any better. He was always asking me if I need something or just to say hi to let me know how important I am to them. All the coaches left a good impression on me.

InsideIllini.com:
If you decide to pick Illinois, when would you arrive on campus?

Keller:
I have five classes left, if I pass them all, I will be out there the first of June. I plan to be out there both sessions of summer school. I really want to get going right away, if possible.

InsideIllini.com:
One a scale from 1-10 what are Illinois' chances with you?

Keller:
A 9.5 and I'm making the announcement today at a press conference. I hope to have this done by 12:00 p.m.

Before we concluded the interview, Keller commented that he had read that people were questioning his ranking coming out of high school and his play at his junior college. He had this to say:

Keller:
I understand I'm not a McDonald's High School All-American or top 100 recruit coming out of high school. What people don't understand is that my situation was not like a lot of other kids who had better things than me. I didn't have the money to play AAU ball. I just didn't, I had to stay home to help my mom and work because I didn't have the money that others did to promote myself. A lot of people put so much stock in some of those guys, but some of the Nike and McDonald's AA don't do anything when they get to college. From where I came from, I think I'm doing pretty good. Plus, I didn't start playing until I was a freshman in high school.

As a fan, I would think people should want the best player in your program regardless of where they're ranked. I don't want the fans to judge me because I'm a junior college kid. People shouldn't take JUCO players so lightly. Try to understand how good the players are because every case and player is different. Because a team didn't have good luck with one kid doesn't mean they can't with another. A lot of people say if you're not a five-star recruit, why waste your time. I don't agree with that. I just want to be a part of something special. I'm not going to try and say I will score 28 a night, but I just want to work and play the guys who I know can play and who want me there with them.

Keller told us that after he makes his commitment he would let us know more about his visit. So, stay tuned to InsideIllini.com for the latest.


Illini Inquirer Top Stories