He may have cut the afro, but the Raven’s starting point guard, Kaza Kajami-Keane, has more swagger than ever.
Kajami-Keane was selected to the All-Canadian Second team in his first season in the CIS, averaging 14.1 points and 6.6 assists on the season. He was the floor general for a Ravens team in a state of change, after the departures of not only the Scrubb Brothers, but coach Dave Smart, who took a sabbatical for the year.
“It’s something that a lot of people praise and whatnot, but for me, like I tell everybody, I didn’t come to Carleton to win individual awards.” said Kajami-Keane on his All-Canadian selection. “Individual awards are nice, and you put them up in your mom’s house” he chuckled, “but they don’t help you out much other than that.”
A transfer from Cleveland State University, Kajami-Keane played three years in the NCAA Division 1. In his fourth year, however, he chose to return to Canada. Born and raised in Ontario, Kajami-Keane opted for Carleton University, historically the most successful team in Canadian InterUniversity Sports (CIS).
“The NCAA is a lot slower, more methodical because of the 35 second shot clock. Things like the difference in free throws and media timeouts. I personally like the CIS rules better” said Kajami-Keane on the move from the NCAA.
When asked why he chose Carleton in particular, he responded by saying: “I came to play for the best coach, to compete, to get better and win basketball games. This program is historic for winning a lot of games, and the main thing for me is to play for a coach who will help me get better.”
Kaza put an emphasis on the quality of Carleton’s coaches, speaking about how both Dave and Rob Smart have helped him groom his game. “That’s why I came, that’s why I’m going to continue to play for these coaches, and continue to put Carleton on my chest, because these are the best coaches in the country.”
Hopes were high for a Ravens team that had won five national titles in a row, and Kajami-Keane had the unenviable job of replacing three-time CIS player of the year winner Philip Scrubb at point guard. “When you play for Carleton, you have high expectations for yourself and your team.” Said Kajami-Keane. He did a magnificent job, however, leading the Ravens to the OUA silver, and putting the Ravens in a position to win their sixth straight national title.
“I’m a guy who takes it day by day, gets better, so I see that the progress I’ve made this year, there’s nothing compared to it.” Said Kajami-Keane on his first season with the Ravens.
Some of Kajami-Keane’s biggest games this year were against Queens (Jan 30) where he scored 20 points along with ten assists and eight rebounds, and against Laurentian (Feb 26) when he dropped 13 dimes. His game goes beyond just numbers however, as he is the engine that gets the Ravens offense running.
Looking into next year, Kaza said there isn’t much to change. “We want to continue to get better, and keep putting ourselves in a position to win. We got good transfers coming in, and I don’t know any of the rookies yet, but knowing coach Dave, he’s going to get some good guys.”
“When this season is done, we’re going to be right back in the gym on monday and tuesday working on our game again. It’s kind of like a train, once one wheel gets going, the next takes off too.”
As for personal goals, Kajami-Keane keeps it simple. “We haven’t won a championship yet so I’d love to do that.”
Kadre Gray career-high 51 points keep Laurentian Voyageurs unbeaten
Kadre Gray scored a career-high 51 points as the Laurentian Voyageurs (4-0) stayed unbeaten with 107-77 win over the Algoma Thunderbirds. The reigning two-time U Sports Most Valuable Player (MVP) torched Algoma — shooting 17-for-24 (70.8%) from the floor and burying 9-of-15 (60%) triples including 8-of-12 (66%) from the foul line — adding 9 assists and 2 steals in 32 minutes.
Gray scored 14 points in the opening quarter and added 11 more in the second-quarter to finish the half with 25 points as Laurentian trailed the Thunderbirds 51-46. The former Rookie of the Year (2016-17) added to his count with 10 more in the middle frame helping Laurentian rally to take a 74-69 lead.
The Toronto, Ontario native doubled-up the Thunderbirds in the fourth quarter — scoring 16 points in 10 minutes as Laurentian outscored Algoma 33-8 to run away with the game.
Gray has been on a tear to start the 2019-2020 U Sports men’s basketball season pouring 40 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists in a win over the Bishop Gaiters just four days ago. The two-time first-team All-Canadian also racked-up 25 points against the Western Mustangs and 19 points in the preseason opener over the Waterloo Warriors.
Gray is currently averaging 33.7 points per game, slightly higher than the league-leading 31 points per game a year ago. Gray’s previous career-high was a 48-point game in 101-81 win over the Lakehead Thunderwolves on November 3rd 2018.
Kadre Gray on pace to become U Sports All-Time Scorer
With two years of eligibility remaining and currently sitting at 1549 career points the Laurentian guard is on pace to surpass UNB Reds standout Javon Masters to become the all-time greatest scorer in U Sports basketball men’s history.
Masters had 1608 entering his junior year and scored 799 in his final two campaigns to finish with 2407 career points — surpassing Ryerson’s Boris Bakovic’s 2319 total points. Kadre Gray scored 620 points in 20 regular season games last year alone and should he come anywhere near that pace this year and opt to return for a final fifth-year he could shatter the mark.
The four-year stand-out guard is coming off a stellar season and opted to declare for the 2019 NBA Draft and will once again look to make his mark on Canadian University basketball.
Former Carleton All-Canadian Eddie Ekiyor charged sexual assault, kidnapping
Surely not the headline you and I were expecting, and the news couldn’t get any worse for former Carleton Ravens forward and two-time All-Canadian Eddie Ekiyor.
According to a report from the Ottawa Police , the 22 year-old Ekiyor is facing serious charges of sexual assault and kidnapping of a 23-year old women following an April 7th, 2019 incident that occurred in Ottawa’s west end.
“The charges come after police received a complaint from a woman regarding an incident in the Market-area and the west end of Ottawa on April 7, 2019. A male suspect met a 23 year old female victim at a downtown bar where he plied her with alcohol and drugs. He then took her to a west end address where he sexually assaulted her. Throughout the incident, the female was in and out of consciousness. Following the sex assault, the victim was put in a taxi cab which drove her home.”Source – Ottawa Police Services
Ottawa Police have charged Ekiyor with the following three charges: sexual assault, kidnapping and rare, and extremely serious occurrence of overcome resistance to commit an offence.
The news comes on the heels of the start of new season and new head coach Taffe Charles confirming Ekiyor’s departure that the former U Sports All-Canadian was leaving the national championship program to join the pro basketball ranks.
Why didn’t Ekiyor declare for the 2019 NBA Draft?
Interestingly enough, and perhaps not so coincidental is the fact that Ekiyor didn’t test the NBA draft waters by declaring himself eligible for the 2019 draft — taking advantage of the recent changes in NCAA draft rules that permits players, including U Sports athletes to go through the draft process and return to their respective school if no serious interest is garnered.
A record two U sports players (Kadre Gray – Laurentian Voyageurs, Tanor Ngom – Ryerson Rams) plus a Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA) player declared — in American born Jalen Sykes (Reford, Michigan) who played for the St. Clair Saints in Windsor, Ontario.
However, there was no mention or sign of Ekiyor who had just finished dominating the 2019 U Sports Final 8 Championship which ran from March 7 to 10 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
At this point, questions and commentary started circulating about Ekiyor’s NBA aspirations — given that he joined the Ravens program with the intention of doing just that — and clearly had more upside than all of the three-players that declared and actually went through some stages of the NBA draft process.
Most early-entry NCAA basketball athletes make their NBA draft declarations around mid-to-late April, as were both the cases with Gray and Ngom.
If Ekiyor and his camp had serious intentions of going pro, why not follow the Canadian NBA hype train and throw his name in the record number of Canadians who did so? After-all the “all gain, nothing to lose” scenario would’ve only benefited Ekiyor’s game, exposure and further bring attention and recognition to the heralded Ravens program.
Timeline of events
Dave Smart shocked the Canadian basketball world by announcing his retirement on March 19, 2019, nine days after winning his record 14th national championship.
The incident in question as per the Ottawa Police occurred less than a month after the National Championship on April 7th and around early May 2019 rumors started surfacing that Ekiyor was looking to leave Carleton to a chase a pro contract.
Those ramblings continued throughout the summer and recently picked-up steam when Ekiyor’s name didn’t appearing on the box-score of the Raven’s first exhibition preseason game against the University of South Florida in Laval, Quebec.
Intrigued by the mystery and lack of details by the both the university and professional teams overseas I reached out to new head coach Taffe Charles via e-mail on August 9th 2019 who provided a very brief statement regarding Ekiyor’s status.
“It is my understanding that Eddie wanted to go pro and is in the midst of doing that.”Taffe Charles – Head Coach Carleton Ravens Men’s basketball program
Based on the timeline of events, it will be interesting to know if and when did the Ravens program found-out about the incident and, if it tried to distance itself from Ekiyor with the rumor that he was going pro or weather Ekiyor himself and his camp misled the university.
Ekiyor also pled guilty and was conditionally discharged of a hit and run incident of an off-duty Ottawa police officer in 2016, curtailing his NCAA basketball aspirations.
The Ottawa native averaged 12.7 points and 6.7 rebounds in three seasons with the Carleton Ravens — winning two national championships, including being named second-team All-Canadian in 2018 and improving on that mark to claim first-team status and the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the Final 8 championships in his last year (2019) with the Ravens program.
Out on bail, passport surrendered
According to Mike Arsalides, Ekiyor has been released on bail to a surety and has surrendered his Canadian passport. Further to that, Arsalides reports that “Ekiyor is no longer a member of Ravens team and “he informed the team a couple of weeks ago of his intentions of wanting to purse a professional basketball career — according to an official statement from Carleton University.
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