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Given to Fly

March 31, 2007

Given to Fly: Could Kelly follow Alford to Southwest?

TERRE HAUTE — Former Marshall, Ill., high school standout Jake Kelly is considering asking Iowa for a release from his national letter-of-intent, according to an Associated Press report.

Kelly, a dazzling floor leader when we saw him in the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic as a freshman, is a 6-foot-6 guard who finished his prep career at Carmel.

Alford made what he called a “courtesy call” to Kelly the night he bolted Iowa City for the head coaching job at New Mexico. Kelly, who didn’t return messages to his cell phone, said in the AP report that he doesn’t want to “leave Alford hanging.”

That’s understandable. When players sign with a school, most of the time they are really signing with the coach who recruited them.

The player shouldn’t have to ask for his release from a letter-of-intent. It should be granted as soon as a coaching change is made.

In Kelly’s mind, he was going to play for an Indiana basketball legend in the Big Ten. Now he’s got a dilemma. Stick with a new coach at Iowa, who might not be familiar with Kelly, or follow Alford to New Mexico.

Kelly said he is taking a wait-and-see approach to see whom Iowa might hire. He could go an entirely different route and ask for his release and open recruiting to anyone. Someone close to Kelly told me that he has had a good relationship with Greg Lansing — a former assistant for Alford — who is listed as associate head coach on the updated bios on the men’s basketball home page.

Rumors have circulated that Creighton coach Dana Altman might be offered the Iowa job. Altman’s assistant Kevin McKenna arrival at Indiana State could be a sign that Altman is comfortable with the pay, job security and resources to succeed he has at Omaha, Neb., because McKenna would have to have been the favorite to take over the reins at Creighton.

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