Ryan Kelly

Coach K, Duke expect Ryan Kelly to return

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Duke has played 15 games with Ryan Kelly and 11 without him. Following an 88-56 win at Virginia Tech on Thursday, the sixth-ranked Blue Devils are now 8-3 with Kelly in street clothes.

Even though Kelly has been sidelined with a right foot injury since Jan. 9, and is still seen in a walking boot, Mike Krzyzewski is confident he’ll have his senior forward back soon.

“We’re more optimistic,” Krzyzewski said after Thursday’s win. “Again, no timetable, but it’s moving. It’s moving in the right direction. Now we believe we’re going to get him back.”

Coach K went on to tell reporters that the 6-foot-11 Kelly has already begun physical activities, but has yet to get involved in any basketball-related workouts besides shooting free throws. Duke has five regular season games remaining to plug Kelly back into the lineup. Before the injury suffered during the Jan. 8 win over Clemson, Kelly was averaging 13.4 points and was the second-leading rebounder with 5.4 per game.

In a lineup with Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry, two candidates to be ACC Player of the Year, Kelly was arguably the most valuable player to Duke prior to his injury. He is a versatile defender and offensively adds another shooter on the perimeter, which in return opens up more for Plumlee down low.

Kelly had sustained an injury to the same foot in the latter part of last season, causing him to miss the ACC and NCAA tournaments. The Blue Devils lost two of the last three games that year without Kelly on the floor.

Duke is set to host Boston College on Sunday afternoon.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Akron reveals special bobble heads for LeBron, high school teammates

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When it comes to discussing some of the game of basketball’s best players, specifically those who went directly from high school to the NBA, a question that’s often asked is where said player would have attended college if forced (by rule) to do so. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are among those who have been discussed in this manner, and in the case of LeBron he’s got connections to two programs within his home state of Ohio.

LeBron’s connected with the Ohio State program, which is outfitted by the Nike’s LeBron signature line, but there’s another program with an even closer connection. That would be Akron, which is led by head coach Keith Dambrot, and all he did was serve as LeBron’s high school coach at St. Vincent/St. Mary’s HS in Akron during the player’s freshman and sophomore years at the school. Also on those teams were two future Akron Zips in guard Dru Joyce and forward Romeo Travis.

Thursday the school announced that it would be honoring James, Joyce and Travis with bobble head dolls to be given out before Akron’s home games against Buffalo (February 16; Joyce’s bobble head), Bowling Green (February 26; Travis) and Ohio (March 1; James).

All three bobble head dolls are wearing Akron uniforms, which in the case of LeBron allows fans to think back and imagine what could have been. Season ticket holders guaranteed one bobble head per account (on each of the three giveaway days), with the first 750 fans in attendance to receive one as well.

NEW PODCAST: Indiana, Cal, troublesome trends and a weekend preview

California's Jabari Bird celebrates a score against Oregon in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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The gang is back together again for another episode of the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk Podcast, with Rob Dauster hosting and Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips joining him. Today’s episode touched on big wins picked up Thursday night by California and Indiana, discussing the performances of those teams and also touching on their prospects down the line.

Also discussed were the recent performances of Iowa State, Providence and Texas A&M (which are you more worried about?), and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule headlined by Kansas visiting Oklahoma. And if you’re a fan of seafood, you may take umbrage with some of Rob’s comments at the beginning of the podcast.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.