RECRUITING: JUCO forward Keller to commit to Illinois

By Jeremy Werner

Junior college prospect Dominique Keller told The Daily Illini Thursday night that he would give Bruce Weber a commitment following the Illini’s 59-51 loss to Michigan State.

The 6-foot-8, 225-pound forward could fill the scholarship of departing sophomore center Brian Carlwell. Keller is averaging 25 points and 10 rebounds as a sophomore for Lee Community College in Baytown, Texas.

Keller said Illinois became an option about a week and a half ago following Carlwell’s announcement that he would transfer.

“They need someone who can hold a scholarship down for two years, who can rebound and play defense, and I think I can be that guy down low,” Keller said.

Keller added that he was impressed by the intensity of Assembly Hall.

“The fans speak for itself,” Keller said. “It’s a great tradition, a great school to be at. I just want to be a part of it.”

Keller said the Illini’s struggles this season did not make an impact on his decision.

“Every team has to struggle sometime,” Keller said. “I don’t even think these guys struggled much; they just need to get better with their free throws. Free throws are the reason they’re in the situation they’re in.”

Keller said he looks forward to playing with a new-look Illini next season. Guard Jamar Smith will return after redshirting this season and highly-touted Kentucky transfer Alex Legion will be eligible to play by December.

“(Smith and Legion) are pretty good players when you add them to the class.” Keller said. “I think we can compete with anybody.”