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SoCalHoops Recruiting News

The Really, Really, Strange Case Of
UC Riverside's Julius Keeler--(Aug. 19, 2002)

Lately we've seen a lot of very strange, very wierd movies.   "Signs."   "Full Frontal."  "The Kid Stays In the Picture" (about Robert Evans, the producer)....We've seen some weird TV shows, and read some strange books, but nothing was stranger than what we read last week in the Riverside Press Enterprise.  There was the headline:

"UCR recruit charged in robbery"
08/15/2002
By JIM ALEXANDER
THE PRESS-ENTERPRISE

We rubbed our eyes, cleaned the glasses, and looked again.  Checked the coffee to make sure that no one had spiked it with anything stronger than a little cream....But no, it was true.  Or at least it was ALLEGED to be so...There was the story: 

RIVERSIDE - Julius Keeler, one of UC Riverside's high-profile basketball recruits, was arrested late Tuesday night in Temecula and charged with robbery.

Keeler was apprehended following an incident at the Embassy Suites Hotel on Rancho California Road. A woman said she had been robbed of her purse in the hotel's parking lot by a man brandishing a BB gun.

Temecula police, with the help of the Riverside County Sheriff's helicopter, combed the area and spotted the suspect on near by Ynez Road. Police found the woman's purse and a BB gun and sweatshirt believed to belong to the suspect in a nearby apartment complex.

A police investigator said Keeler, after first denying involvement, said he needed money to pay off traffic tickets.

Keeler, whose residence was listed as Temecula, was booked into the Southwest Detention Center in French Valley on suspicion of robbery. His bail was set at $25,000, and his initial court appearance is set for today [Thursday]  at 8 a.m. in Perris.

There was more to the newspaper article.  A statement from UCR AD Stan Morrison that he couldn't comment until getting further information. A pledge to "get to the bottom of this right away" by the University.

There was the obligatory recap of Keeler's past accomplishments.  How he and San Diego Horizon star Nate Carter, the state Division 4 Player of the Year, were the biggest names in UCR's recruiting class this spring.   About how Keeler averaged 18.7 points and 10 rebounds a game and earned second-team all-California Interscholastic Federation honors in the San Diego section while leading Escondido High to its first league championship in 24 years.  About the serious auto accident he suffered before the first round of the state regionals, causing him to miss the last three games of his high school career.  About how he recovered to play in Las Vegas in April.   The kind of stuff that let all of us know that Julius Keeler had the world by the ass, and he was on the beginning of what looked like a very promising college career.

So, could this very bad news be more than just a bad dream?   The Press Enterprise says the Temecula police think so:

"According to the police report, the victim and some witnesses positively identified Keeler after he was apprehended. The suspect was described in the report as a black male adult, 18 years of age, 6-5 and 210 pounds, wearing a gray sweatshirt and dark baggy shorts."

And it was apparently enough for the Superior Court to order that Keeler continue to be held in custody pending the posting of bail.  On Friday, August 16, 2002, the Riverside Press Enterprise noted the following:

Charges expected

Temecula police will forward information about the arrest of UCR basketball recruit Julius Keeler to the District Attorney's office and expect charges to be filed by early next week.

Keeler, 18, was arrested Tuesday moments after police responded to a reported holdup at the Embassy Suites hotel on Rancho California Road. Authorities said a man brandished a BB gun at a woman, took her purse and fled on foot. Police recovered the purse and gun used in the robbery.

Police on Thursday continued their investigation. Sgt. Cynthia Wait said she expects the initial report will be filed today with representatives of the Riverside County District Attorney's office. Temecula police will request a robbery charge be filed.

Keeler remained in custody late Thursday

Where will this all end?  If the District Attorney's Office files a complaint, it will end in a courtroom before a jury.  Will it result, as some have speculated, in the withdrawal by the University of California of a scholarship offer? If the allegations turn out to be true, we'd be surprised if it didn't.

Of course, this could all just be a case of mistaken identity.  Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.  But the way this is developing, it looks like it's not going to be over sooner rather than later.

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