Chances are, if you have ever picked up a basketball in Limerick City, you have heard the name Jason Killeen. The soon to be 35 year old was a child star on the streets of Limerick, moving to play Basketball in the USA at the age of just 16. The CBS Sexton St star stands at 6'11 and he was not far off that high mark when he played schools basketball at time when Basketball was beginning to take control of Limerick's secondary schools.
Moving to the US nearly 20 years ago was big news in Limerick. Killeen was going to the land of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Charles Barkley. Every time Basketball was mentioned, Killeen's name was soon to follow.
It wasn't always easy for the gentle giant however, as Notre Dame Academy in Middleburg Virginia was a long way from Janesboro, even further when one thinks of the lack of technology.
"I had some scholarships offers when I was still in school" admits Jason. "Moving away so young was tough for me at the start. We had to go to Easons to buy a map of America to see where we were going. There was no WhatsApp back then. My friends and family were writing my letters. These used to take 2-3 weeks to arrive. I was so luckly to have been housed by the Teasley family. They mad settling in all the easier"
Following his completion of High School, Winthrop University was Killeen's college of choice, staying there for three seasons, winning three big south title rings. Two more seasons followed at the University of Augusta, where Killeen once more collected two titles, this time the Peach Belt crowns.
"The standard of American college basketball was and is still of the highest standard. You learn so much over there. But I see that here in Ireland now too. The standard of the game is growing rapidly here" Killeen added.
Basketball Ireland this month announced that they have been awarded the hosting rights for the 2020 FIBA Men’s European Championship for Small Countries.The championships will be held at the World class facilities of the University of Limerick from June 30 to July 5
The announcement comes off the back of the successful hosting of the Under 18 and Senior Women’s European Championships by Basketball Ireland in 2017 and 2018 and also coincides with the organization’s 75th anniversary which falls in 2020.
Killeen under the guidance of former UL Eagles coach Mark Keenan will return to his old home court for the championships. The centre, now playing with Griffith College Templeogue will be the focal point of Ireland's attack when they host the championships in June.
"I can't wait to come home and play in Limerick. UL is such an amazing venue and to have Mark there too will be great. I met my now wife Marta when I was playing in Limerick, so we have very fond memories of playing basketball there. It is the perfect setting for what should be a great competition"
The Irish Senior Men’s team have competed well in this competition before, finishing in third place in 2018 in San Marino, and it is hoped that next year will see even more success for Mark Keenan’s charges as they showcase the best of Irish basketball on home ground.