Lorenzo Keeler would be a San Jose State Spartan if not for an unfortunate circumstance that landed him here at Cal Poly, but that doesn’t mean he’s not proud to wear green and gold on the basketball court.
The sophomore guard, and second-leading scorer on the team, with 8.9 points per game, describes himself as shy – that is – until you get to know him.
“People might think that ‘Lorenzo don’t talk,’ ” he says, “but nah, really, I’m a funny dude.”
One of four children, Keeler grew up in Escondido, a small town outside of San Diego, where he left his mark with two great high school seasons, averaging 23 points per game as a junior and 26 per game as a senior.
“I miss home – I’m homesick right now,” he says. “That’s where I grew up; that’s where I’ve been all my life.”
Out of high school, Keeler signed to play basketball for San Diego State, but had a change of plans. After reviewing his decision with his father, the two decided that a year of preparatory school would help him mature further.
Keeler spent about a year at Winchendon Prep in Boston and then signed to San Jose State. He began practicing with the team, but before he could play a game, his scholarship was taken away.
Along with five others, Keeler faced statutory rape charges in Boston. He said that he proclaimed his innocence from the beginning, but that wasn’t enough.
“My name got thrown in this big ol’ mess,” Keeler says. “When San Jose (State) heard, they didn’t want to wait to see the result of it. They just took my scholarship away.”
The charges against Keeler were eventually dropped at the request of the victim’s family, but he said that he doesn’t blame San Jose State for its decision.
“It was a big thing down in Boston, and it was a big case, what I was accused of,” he said.
When asked how the turn of events affected his life, Keeler replied, “I could sit here for an hour or three hours with you and tell you about all the tribulations and trials I’ve been through in my life, so it was just a setback for me. I just looked at it as just a little block in the road and I knew that I was going to overcome that. I just couldn’t wait to get another chance.”
After being dropped by San Jose State, Keeler attended Mt. San Jacinto College, a community college north of Hemet, for a year before signing with Cal Poly.
Keeler declared himself as a comparative ethnic studies major coming into Cal Poly but hopes to transfer to business.
“The business program is just so backed up out here,” he said.
Keeler says he would like to do something in the field of business management.
“My father owns a lot of property and they own a family business back home, so just learning from him, I just want to own my own business one day.”
When he’s not studying or practicing with the team, Keeler said, he likes to relax with friends and go to the beach. He added, “I’m also in the gym a lot when I’m off. I mean, I’m big on working on my game – I’m just in the gym, in the gym, in the gym.”
This work ethic shines through, as Keeler boasts the third-highest free-throw percentage in the Big West Conference, at 89.1 percent.
In addition to basketball, Keeler has a passion for music.
“I love hip-hop, I love R&B and just being with my dad a lot,” he says. “He plays a lot of jazz, so I’ve gotten to like jazz as well.”
He added that his family is Christian and detailed his mother’s love of gospel music.
“Every time I’m in the car she’s like, ‘No, turn that off, we’re playing this gospel,’ ” he says. “She doesn’t like hearing all that rap stuff, so I love gospel as well.”
When Keeler watches TV, it’s BET, all types of sports, music videos, but most of all, “I like stand-up comedy – that’s my main thing,” he said. “I’ve got a bunch of DVDs. Katt Williams is my favorite.”
When asked if he tells jokes, Keeler smiled and replied, “Nah, not really. When we’re in the locker room, we might go at each other with a little bit of jokes, but you know, it’s all love.”
He later elaborated on the team’s off-court chemistry, saying, “We really kick together good off the court, which is important.”
Along with his teammates, Keeler has also left an impression on his head coach, Kevin Bromley.
“(Keeler)’s an incredible young man. I love him,” Bromley said. “He’s a great addition to our basketball program, he’s very mature, he’s a great teammate and he’s been a tremendous student.”
After such a tumultuous beginning, Keeler says he’s finally found a home at Cal Poly.
“Coaches gave me a chance here and I really love the coaching staff,” he says.
Although he began the season coming off the bench, he has earned a starting spot in the past three games.
“I’m definitely staying here,” he says. “I’ve got three more years, this one here and two more to go, so I’ve got a lot more Cal Poly basketball to play.”