Tominaga Keisei dreaming of joining Rui Hachimura in the NBA

Tominaga has committed to NCAA Division 1 team Nebraska Huskers next season and dreams of joining Hachimura in the NBA

Rui Hachimura may have company in the NBA soon, make way for sharp-shooting point guard Tominaga Keisei who’s aiming to become Japan’s latest basketball star.

Born 2001 in Nagoya, Japan, Tominaga has already taken his talent to the U.S. where he plays with Ranger College in Texas.

A year ago Tominaga verbally committed to the Huskers and now he’s made that official, signing a National Letter of Intent to transfer to the University of Nebraska next season.

“I’m thrilled to be able to play in Division I of the NCAA from next year,” Tominaga told the Japan Times in a Zoom interview.

Tominaga hopes to follow in the footsteps of Washington Wizards star Hachimura who made history when he became Japan’s maiden first-round NBA draft pick in August 2020 and shone in a difficult rookie season.

Now the future of Japanese basketball looks even brighter with Tominaga’s rise, the Nagoya native will likely become the first from his country to play for a team in a Power 5 conference on a full scholarship.

“One of the best shooters I’ve ever seen” – “The Japanese Steph Curry”

There’s a lot of excitement in Nebraska before the arrival of the latest Japanese prodigy.

Tominaga, a 188cm guard, is “one of the best shooters I’ve ever seen” Cornhuskers head coach Fred Hoiberg told the Times, adding that he’s “unbelievably efficient.”

Hoiberg knows what he’s talking about too, he was an NBA sharpshooter for the Indiana Pacers, the Chicago Bulls, and the Minnesota Timberwolves in his day.

“I’ll do my best to become a dream NBA player!” – Tominaga

The rise of Keisei Tominaga

“Some great news!” Says Tominaga’s Instagram post above, “We officially signed for the University of Nebraska today!”

“I will play at NCAA, which was one of my dreams from next season. I think I can do it at a very high level, so I will do my best to improve.

“And I’ll do my best to become a dream NBA player!”

Born into a basketball family, his father is former Japan national team centre Tominaga Hiroyuki who played with Mitsibushi Electric from ’96-2006 and the Japan national team.

Junior has already made a name for himself on Japan’s underage teams at national level, finishing among the top five in scoring at both the FIBA U16 Asia Championship 2018 and the FIBA U18 Asia Championship 2018.

He averaged more than three made three-pointers per game and looks to be the natural heir to legendary long range shooter Takehiko Orimo’s throne for the Akatsuki Five.

In high school there was no hiding Tominaga’s abilities. He averaged 39.8 points for Sakuragaoka High School during the 2018 All-Japan Championship.

The move to the USA hasn’t slow him down either, in his freshman year at Ranger he averaged 16.8 points with a 3-point percentage of 47.9 during the 2019-20 season.

Keisei Tominaga to Nebraska

Now the 19-year-old says that Nebraska’s style will suit his game.

“Coach Hoiberg and Coach Matt explained a lot of things about their game in our Zoom conversations,” Tominaga told the Japan Times on a video call, he still hasn’t been able to visit due to Covid restrictions.

“For example, they said they want me to shoot the ball without hesitation early in the offense or on fast breaks. The guards are going to drive in and kick passes out — they said that’s their style, and they want me to shoot from deep.”

“Keisei is one of the more unique signees in program history,” Nebraska Basketball posted on Twitter, quoting Coach Hoiberg.

“We are excited to add him to our team, he’s nicknamed ‘The Japanese Steph Curry’ and is truly an elite 3-point shooter with unlimited range and a quick release.”

“Keisei will make an immediate impact not only with his shooting, but also in floor spacing, as it will help us create driving lanes for others.”

Keisei Tominaga – the shooter’s shooter

It’s that sniper’s sense that has Nebraska excited about his arrival.

“Even when you talk about the Big Ten, each team plays its own way,” Tominaga continues, “but as far as Nebraska, they move the ball a lot to create an open man, whereas many other teams rely on their (core) players’ individual skills and have them drive into the lane and things like that. But I’ve got the impression the way Nebraska plays will suit me.”

He hopes he can eventually emulate NBA stars like Damian Lillard, Steph Curry and Trae Young.

Shooting from deep will also help Tominaga avoid the defence he’ll face at the 3-point perimeter.

“I can’t easily take shots at the 3-point line, so that makes me shoot from far behind the line,” he says.

“I’ve also been aware of shooting as soon as I get open. So I shoot even if there’s some distance (to the 3-point line) if I think I can shoot.”

To compete in the Big Ten the Japanese guard will have to bulk up and improve his game physically, and the good news is that Cornhusker athletes have access to the Nebraska Athletic Performance Laboratory, where sports scientists and nutritionists help get the best out of the College’s sportsmen and women.

“It’s always been just myself and I know my own limits, so I’m looking forward to it,” Tominaga concluded with the Japan Times.

While the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 may come a little too soon for this young prospect next summer, Keisei Tominaga is another reason for Japanese basketball fans to be excited about the future.

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