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.”