Keisei Tominaga shoots his way into stardom

Keisei Tominaga shoots a basket.

SHOOTING HIS SHOT ­— Keisei Tominaga drives the lane against No. 15 Creighton on Dec. 3, 2023. Tominaga had a team-high 20 points in the contest. photo courtesy of Nebraska Athletics

When he’s not roasting opponents with his lethal jump shot, Keisei Tominaga enjoys cooking traditional Japanese food. Growing up in Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture in Japan, the Nebraska Cornhuskers’ senior ate Japanese food because it was healthy.

Now, Tominaga is hoping to help push the Cornhuskers to an NCAA March Madness tournament bid in his final season.

“I think eating Japanese food helped me, eating healthy, so that’s the reason I’m cooking Japanese food a lot, eating Japanese food a lot,” Tominaga told the Nichi Bei News in a phone interview.

He cooks oyakodon (chicken and egg over rice) and gyudon (beef slices and egg over rice).

Tominaga said the biggest hurdle for him coming from Japan to the United States was the different food culture.

Tominaga, 23, who played high school basketball in Aichi for Sakuragaoka Gakuen High School, moved to America to play basketball at Ranger College, a community college in Texas. He played for the school for a couple of years before transferring to Nebraska. He added that two other schools recruited him, before he went to Nebraska.

Currently, the 6-foot-2 shooting guard averages 14 points per game on 45.8 percent shooting from the field, including 37 percent from three point territory.

Basketball in Japan is gaining popularity because people are watching NBA players, including Rui Hachimura of the Los Angeles Lakers and Yuta Watanabe of the Memphis Grizzlies, Tominaga said. He added that last summer’s FIBA Basketball World Cup helped grow the sport’s popularity in Japan. The Japan Men’s National Team qualified for this coming summer’s Paris Olympics.

“It’s crazy like every time I walk (around) Japan, people recognize me, like more than before,” Tominaga said. He added it was “a great feeling, especially playing (in) Japan in front of a bunch of Japanese fans.”

Tominaga, whose nickname is “The Japanese Steph Curry,” averaged 11.4 points per game, on 44.7 percent from the field, including 37.5 percent from beyond the arc, the FIBA Basketball World Cup Website states.

Shota Kodama, the Golden State Warriors’ social media coordinator, told the Nichi Bei News that Tominaga “helped a lot to get qualified for the Olympic Games. His playing style is similar to Steph Curry…” Kodama added that Curry’s popularity among Japanese people helps Tominaga’s popularity.

In a Feb. 17 victory against the Penn State Nittany Lions, Tominaga scored 17 points. The game after against Indiana Feb. 20, he scored 20 points.

As the calendar flips to March, Tominaga said one of his dreams is to make the March Madness NCAA tournament and if his team makes it, he’s going to play as hard as he can because it’s his senior season.

Tominaga, who hopes to join Hachimura and Watanabe as NBA players, wants to inspire the next generation of Japanese basketball players, stating lots of kids dream of going to the NBA.

“I hope I’m the role model for them to show that we can do it and I can do it,” Tominaga said.

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