Leaving the Nest: Kajami-Keane ends Ravens career as a champion

After two seasons with the Carleton Ravens men’s basketball team, Kaza Kajami-Keane is set to graduate following two national championships and two Second-Team All-Canadian honours in two seasons.

Previously, Kajami-Keane played with the Cleveland State Vikings and Illinois State Redbirds before transferring to Carleton.

Over the course of 38 regular season games with the Ravens, Kajami-Keane averaged 14.8 points per game, along with 5.9 assists per game and 4.1 rebounds per game.

The Ajax, Ont. native spoke to The Charlatan about his basketball career and future.

The Charlatan (TC): How do you reflect on the season and your career at Carleton?

Kaza Kajami-Keane (KK): The season was very good. We had some new guys and they helped us out a lot and so it’s good seeing their progression. Stepping into a new role as being a leader after being a guy under Gavin [Resch] and Guillaume [Payen-Boucard], that was different. I think the older guys took what Gavin and Guillaume gave us and used that to help out this team. My two years here have been nothing but phenomenal. I haven’t played as much basketball as I have here and haven’t got as much success anywhere else as I have here so that was very big. Just great relationships. I met some really good people here and I got a pretty good education so can’t complain.

TC: What’s the biggest thing you’ve improved on?

KK: Probably seeing the game in a different light. Before I kind of just played, went out there. Whatever happened, I just reacted. Now being here, Dave [Smart], Rob [Smart], Oz [Osvaldo Jeanty], Willie [Manigat] and all the other coaches allowed me to see the game in a light that you’re two steps before. I think before I was kind of playing the game like it was checkers. Now I’m seeing it like chess, seeing where I want guys to be, defences and making reads off that.

TC: What’s your favourite basketball memory at Carleton?

KK: I think building relationships with these guys and building relationships with Dave and Rob. Those are going to last forever. Championships are obviously something that are very great. I remember winning the first one. I remember just crying and giving Gavin and Guillaume a hug. Those are something that stick out but those moments come and they go. I feel like having a relationship with these guys is something that will last forever.

TC: What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from basketball?

KK: I think I’ve learned the most that the game will get you to a low point and then it’ll get you to a high point. It’s about staying even-keel. That’s just in life. You’ll have your moments when things aren’t going the greatest but if you keep pushing and keep trying to get better, things will become successful. You know, I’ve had times where I didn’t want to play no more but I kept coming after the game and falling back in love with it. It’s been pretty good to me after I did that.

TC: What is the most enjoyable part of your basketball experience?

KK: That’s a good question, I’d probably say having teammates that you know, you see them grow, improve and being that teammate that you were the one somebody else watched and improve. I remember coming in when I was at Illinois State, I had a couple of teammates that enjoyed seeing my success and seeing me get better. Now being that older player and seeing those guys get better, that brings a lot of joy knowing that other people are being successful with what they’re doing.

TC: What are your plans for the future?

KK: I want to get into something with sports management or something like that. I’ll probably play professionally for a little bit and then go into some route with sports management or agency. I want to stay around the game, that’s for sure.

– Graphic by Christophe Young