Dominique Keller: Texan adjusts to Midwestern lifestyle, transitions from JUCO to Big Ten play

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Erica Magda

By Jeremy Werner

On going from junior college to the Big Ten …

“It’s been a tough adjustment. You just got to learn the different sets and the defensive schemes. You got to play harder and there’s a lot more talent here. It’s just overall adjustment. I think it took me a while to get to it, but I’ve been used to it for a while here.”

On the Illinois weather …

“That’s been the biggest adjustment of everything. I’m used to it being 85 degrees on Christmas. I’m coming here and it’s snowing and stuff. That’s why every day I get up and throw the powder like LeBron (James). I just do it everyday for the fun of it. I had only seen snow one time when I came here to visit against Michigan State (last year). Before I got to Illinois in general, I’d never seen snow.”

On how he fits in the team …

“I feel like I fit. I’m there. I think everybody loves me. I love them. I’m the guy who keeps everybody laughing, the guy who does wild, crazy stuff. When Coach (Weber) is mad at people, I’m the guy who makes him laugh and lighten up things. I think I kind of hold the team together a little bit.”

On unorthodox shooting and style of play …

“It’s hard for people to guard. A lot of people who have basic moves or try to be fancy, they can read what you do. I think me being unorthodox some of the shots I take, they be so weird that guys don’t know how to defend them. It’s a lot easier for me to do because it hasn’t been that hard for me to score.”

On how he needs to improve …

“I think I need to improve my defense. I think I’m playing like 18 to 20 (minutes) now. I think I can play more if I can get the defensive schemes a little bit down, and be a better rebounder.”

On what he’s learned about Coach Weber …

“He’s a lot meaner than what he perceives to be. That’s my man, though. It’s all business when you’re on the court. But when you’re off the court, he’s like a father. He makes sure you don’t need anything. He makes sure you go to class. I’d say he’s like your grandfather because he’s always in all your business.”

Quick hits

Position: Forward

Hometown: Port Arthur, Texas

Previous School: Lee (Texas) Community College

Recruiting Rank: 18th-ranked JUCO player

Height: 6-foot-7

Weight: 230 pounds

Favorites

Favorite movie: Rush Hour

Favorite meal: Mom’s “Dirty South” spaghetti and meatballs

Favorite musical artist: Lil Wayne

Favorite campus eatery: Chipotle

Favorite athlete: Michael Jordan