NORMAL — It didn’t take long for new Illinois State basketball coach Dan Muller to find a replacement for Nic Moore.
Kaza Kajami-Keane, a 6-foot-1 point guard from Christian Faith Center Academy in Creedmoor, N.C., announced Wednesday he will play for Muller and the Redbirds beginning in the fall.
Muller was introduced as ISU’s coach on May 8. The next day, Moore announced he would transfer after starting 29 of the Redbirds’ 35 games as a freshman.
Kajami-Keane, a native of Ontario, Canada, visited the ISU campus this past weekend and was slated to go to Penn State this weekend. Oklahoma State and Hofstra also were reportedly in the mix for Kajami-Keane.
“They have great facilities, great players and they needed a point guard. It’s just a great opportunity for me to be an impact player,” the 185-pound Kajami-Keane told ESPN.
“I am best at making plays for myself and teammates. I will do whatever it takes to help my team win.”
ESPN described Kajami-Keane as “a true point guard with good size and strength … (who) is an excellent passer and has the ability to knock down open shots and run the offense.”
Muller cannot comment about a recruit until he receives a signed financial aid agreement. Kajami-Keane is expected to compete with senior Anthony Cousin for the starting point guard position.
Moore led the Redbirds in assists (3.8 per game) and was third in scoring (10.0 points) and 3-point baskets (56). He reportedly is looking at transferring to Illinois, Purdue or Notre Dame.
Kajami-Keane will get a head start on learning about Muller’s system and his new teammates when the Redbirds begin individual workouts on June 11. A new NCAA rule allows teams to hold two hours of workouts per week with coaches for eight weeks during summer school.
Ward named final assistant: Muller announced Wednesday that Torrey Ward will join the Redbirds’ coaching staff as an assistant coach. That completes the assistant staff as Muller earlier hired Dana Ford and Rob Judson.
Ward was an assistant at Mississippi from 2006-11 before spending last season coaching in China. Muller was a Vanderbilt assistant coach while Ward was at Ole Miss in the Southeastern Conference.
“Torrey is an incredibly talented assistant coach with SEC experience,” said Muller. “He’s been successful wherever he has been. Torrey can really recruit, but he is also an excellent basketball coach and understands the game.
“His experience in other parts of the country, in addition to the Midwest, really compliments our staff.”
Before going to Mississippi, Ward was on the Jacksonville State staff for one year as a volunteer coach and two years as an assistant.
“I am excited about the opportunity to work with Dan Muller,” said Ward. “He is going to do great things at Illinois State, and I am looking forward to being a part of an already winning program.”
Ward, who turns 34 years old on July 7, was a 6-3 swingman who played at Alabama-Birmingham from 1997-2000. He scored nearly 800 points in his career with the Blazers, helping UAB to the 1999 NCAA Tournament, and was runner-up for Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year to Cincinnati’s Kenyon Martin.