January 29, 2020

PU Men’s Hoops Tops D-III Foe Rutgers-Camden As Kellman Stars In Tune-Up for 1st Ivy Weekend

BREAKOUT PERFORMANCE: Princeton University men’s basketball player Keeshawn Kellman puts up a shot in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday, freshman forward Kellman scored a career-high 20 points to help Princeton defeat Division III foe Rutgers-Camden 87-41 in its return from the exam break. The Tigers, now 7-8 overall and 2-0 Ivy League, resume league play this weekend when they host Dartmouth on January 31 and Harvard on February 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Keeshawn Kellman has kept his head down and paid his dues in going through his freshman season with the Princeton University men’s basketball team

“Every day, whether it is practice or a game, I just try to contribute to the team and create a positive environment,” said Kellman, a 6’8, 220-pound native of Allentown, Pa. “I work as hard as I can and do everything that is asked of me.”

Last Sunday, that work paid dividends as Kellman scored a career-high 20 points to help Princeton defeat Division III foe Rutgers-Camden 87-41 before 1,576 at Jadwin Gym in its return from the exam break.

“I felt good finishing around the rim,” said Kellman, reflecting on a performance which saw him go 9-of-11 from the floor and 2-for-2 from the foul line as the Tigers improved to 7-8 overall.

“There are some things I need to sharpen up on — as always — my ball screen defense, dealing with fatigue, setting up my  teammates better, taking care of the ball. It really felt good.”

Kellman displayed a connection with classmate Tosan Evboumwan as the two wreaked havoc in the paint in the latter stages of the contest.

“Tosan and I push each other everyday in practice, whether it is finishing or defense,” said Kellman, who entered Sunday having scored 14 points on the season in seven appearances. “We like to compete.”

Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson wasn’t surprised to see Kellman produce a breakout performance.

“We see what he is doing every single day; we are asking for him to be as consistent as possible,” said Henderson.

“There is so much there. Just as we were walking down here, he was saying I want to get better at my ball screen defense. He will because he works. He is one of the hardest, if not the hardest, working players we have ever had. That never doesn’t go your way.”

With Princeton seeing its first action since defeating Penn 63-58 on January 10 in improving to 2-0 in Ivy League play, Henderson was happy to give playing time to 14 Tigers last Sunday.

“It is really good that we put the uniforms on and that we play,” said Henderson.

“Defensively the first group got us off to a really good start. I was hopeful we could get into the bench and play Keeshawn and others that don’t get an opportunity. Now instead of them running the scout team and me being all over the other guys, I am on them. It is great, it is the way you learn. That is a real
positive today.”

Having players like Kellman get that experience should be a positive for the Tigers down the road.

“Keeshawn is getting an opportunity to see a really good center play every single day with Richmond [Aririguzoh],” said Henderson, who got 10 points and six rebounds from Elijah Barnes off the bench in the win.

“The goal would be that we can keep growing our bench because we are going to need it. As we know, it is very difficult to compete in the league when your bench is weak. I was pleased that we got some good production from Keeshawn and others.”

In Henderson’s view, the Tigers can make things difficult for their Ivy foes.

“This might be one of the more unique teams that I have had,” maintained Henderson.

“We are huge, we can play a lot of different ways. Richmond is a force so first you have to guard that. I know there are some really good bigs in the league, but Tosan and Ryan are both almost 6’8 and they put the ball on floor like guards and pass it like guards. It is going to be a really fun challenge to see how this all maps out in the next few weeks.”

With Princeton hosting Dartmouth (7-10 overall, 0-2 Ivy) on January 31 and Harvard (13-4 overall, 2-0 Ivy) on February 1, the Tigers will be facing a challenging weekend.

“I think Dave [McLaughlin] has done a really good job with Dartmouth; I think it is one of his strongest teams,” said Henderson.

“Harvard looks really good, they have seniors. I think with both teams, it is going to be a huge weekend.”

Kellman, for his part, is ready to keep his nose to the grindstone. “It is the first full Ivy weekend,” said Kellman.

“We have to go out here next week and practice as hard as we can, be on top of the details, and try to play two really good games.”