We heard just before the game today that Ryan Kelly would play for Duke against Miami, but we had no idea that meant he’d put up a career-high 36 points in a 79-76 upset of Miami, the ACC’s top team.
It’s easy to think that Kelly’s importance to Duke has been exaggerated as he sat, nursing a foot injury that has kept him sidelined since January 8. His performance at Cameron Indoor today proves he is every bit the key player his teammates have made him out to be. Kelly hit his first shot – a three-pointer – after just two and a half minutes of play, and he never looked back or looked anything less than fully healthy the rest of the way.
To recap: Kelly was 10-14 overall, 7-9 from deep, and 9-12 from the stripe. He snatched seven boards – six on the defensive end of the floor – and came up with a big steal in the final minute as Miami was setting up for a potential go-ahead shot. Kelly defended everyone from Shane Larkin to Kenny Kadji on a night when most thought he’d make a token appearance as part of a cautious recovery effort.
The stat line tells the tale of why Duke became beatable while Kelly was out, and again looks like a title contender with him on the court. When Miami doubled Mason Plumlee early in the game, Kelly drained the long ball. When the ‘Canes started edging out to harass Kelly’s perimeter shots, Plumlee was able to dunk, board and hit the putbacks he can get easily on single coverage. Defensively, Kelly employed his long arms and quickness to bother shots all over the floor, and he snagged a crucial steal in the final minute that ended an attempt by Miami to tie the game or take the lead.
It’s not a stretch to say that Ryan Kelly is the crucial piece in Duke’s title hopes right now. He’s not the star – tonight’s scoring explosion notwithstanding – but he’s the guy who gives the stars an extra inch or two to operate, and denies that same real estate to opponents. That can be the difference between ending play in March and ending play in April.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA has denied North Carolina State guard Terry Henderson’s request for another year of eligibility.
Henderson announced the decision Friday in a statement issued by the school.
The Raleigh native played two seasons at West Virginia before transferring to N.C. State and redshirting in 2014-15. He played for only 7 minutes of the following season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.
As a redshirt senior in 2016-17, he was the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game and made a team-best 78 3-pointers.
Henderson called it “an honor and privilege” to play in his hometown.
SMU pulled in a frontcourt player in Georgetown transfer Akoy Agau, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Agau is immediately eligible for next season as a graduate transfer.
The 6-foot-8 Agau started his career at Louisville before transferring to Georgetown after one season. Spending two seasons with the Hoyas, Agau was limited to 11 minutes in his first season due to injuries. He averaged 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season.
Coming out of high school, Agau was a four-star prospect but he’s never lived up to that billing in-part because of injuries. Now, Agau gets one more chance to make a difference as he’s hoping to help replace some departed pieces like Ben Moore and Semi Ojeleye.
South Carolina big man Sedee Keita will transfer from the program, he announced on Friday.
The 6-foot-9 Keita was once regarded as a top-100 national prospect in the Class of 2016, but he never found consistent minutes with the Gamecocks for last season’s Final Four team.
Keita appeared in 29 games and averaged 1.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game while shooting 27 percent from the field.
A native of Philadelphia, Keita will have to sit out next season before getting three more seasons of eligibility.
Although Keita failed to make an impact during his only season at South Carolina, he’ll be a coveted transfer thanks to his size and upside.
Mississippi State will lose two players to transfer as freshmen Mario Kegler and Eli Wright are leaving the program.
Both Kegler and Wright were four-star prospects coming out of high school as they were apart of a six-man recruiting class that is supposed to be a major foundation for Ben Howland’s future with the Bulldogs.
The 6-foot-7 Kegler was Mississippi State’s third-leading scorer last season as he averaged 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Kegler should command some quality schools on the transfer market, especially since he’ll still have three more years of eligibility after sitting out next season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Kegler’s loss is also notable for Mississippi State because it is the second consecutive offseason that Howland lost a top-100, in-state product to transfer after only one season after Malik Newman left for Kansas.
Wright, a 6-foot-4 guard, was never able to find consistent minutes as he was already behind underclass perimeter options like Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and Tyson Carter last season. With Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary’s four-star brother, also joining the Bulldogs next season, the writing was likely on the wall that Wright wasn’t going to earn significant playing time.
A big recruiting day for N.C. State continued on Saturday afternoon as Utah transfer and guard Devon Daniels pledged to the Wolfpack.
Earlier in the day, N.C. State and new head coach Kevin Keatts landed another quality transfer in UNC Wilmington guard C.J. Bryce.
The 6-foot-5 Daniels just finished his freshman season with the Utes in which he put up 9.9 points 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 57 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range. Just like Bryce, Daniels will have to sit out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer regulations before he has three more seasons of eligibility.
N.C. State now has two potential starters on the perimeter for the 2018-19 season with the addition of Bryce and Daniels as it will be interesting to see what kind of talent the Wolfpack can get around them.