Twenty years ago, the Fab Five was at its finest. With Michigan rising to No. 1 again — 20 years later — we decided to take a look back at that trend-setting quintet, as well as lost-in-the-shuffle memory makers from the other 11 Big Ten schools. Some were players. Some were coaches. We even looked back at an arena that Big Ten fans can relate to. The second installment:
Whatever happened to ... Illinois’ Richard Keene
Then: The Collinsville superstar created a stir during recruiting, with his final three choices between Illinois, Duke and Indiana. “It’s tough for a 17-year-old kid trying to make a decision like that,” Keene said. He made Lou Henson and the folks in Champaign-Urbana happy, picking the Illini. During his four years at the school, Keene helped the Illini reach three NCAA tournaments and one NIT. He scored 1,145 points and ranks among the school’s career leaders in three-pointers (237) and assists. “I don’t have any regrets looking back,” Keene said. “I had a great four years at Illinois.” One of Keene’s favorite moments as an Illini came in 1993, when T.J. Wheeler heaved a three-quarter-court pass to Andy Kaufmann, who buried a three-pointer to knock off Iowa. Keene’s last game as an Illini was a home loss in the NIT against Alabama, which was also the end of Henson’s Illinois career.
Now: The father of three (son R.J., daughter Sophia and son Howie), lives in the Houston area with his wife, Sara. Keene moved from St. Louis to work for MRC Global, a line pipe company. He has been in the business more than a decade. Keene doesn’t play much basketball these days, with most of his free time taken up by his kids’ sports teams. Keene thinks he could have some future basketball recruits at home. Keene and his family continue to root for Illinois, watching as many games as possible. D.J. Richardson is a current favorite of the Keene family.
What they’re saying: “Rich came in with an unbelievable reputation. He was extremely skilled as a player. He could handle it. He could, obviously, shoot it. He was athletic. He had a great court awareness. Being a guy from similar parts of the state it was good to have a guy up here with those credentials. He was a joy to play with. As you look over the body of work that Rich was able to do in his four years here, he had a very good career.” — Tom Michael, former Illini teammate and current Illinois senior associate athletic director