News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

June 23, 2011

Jake Kelly doesn’t expect to get drafted today

The NBA draft has just two rounds. So if you’re not a blue-chip, can’t-miss draft prospect coming out of college, the time between the end of the collegiate season and the draft is an exercise in buzz generation.

In many ways, its just like any other college graduate trying to get their foot in the door. You network, you tryout, you endeavor to get your name in the hands of persons of influence as much as is humanly possible.

That’s what former Indiana State guard and Terre Haute native Jake Kelly has devoted his life to since his Sycamore career ended in March in the NCAA Tournament.

Kelly left school shortly after ISU’s run ended and decamped to Phoenix to workout for eight weeks. He also completed the Champions Academy program in Indianapolis. He has hired agent Michael Gaston to represent him.

The NBA workout cycle began a few weeks ago. Kelly had workouts with the Indiana Pacers and the Washington Wizards two weeks ago, but they were the only tryout invitations Kelly received.

As a result, Kelly isn’t confident his name will be called during tonight’s NBA Draft.

“I’ve had two workouts, but I was hoping to get a few more. Because of that, I don’t feel enough buzz was generated to the point where teams are going to compete enough for me to be drafted by them,” said Kelly in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

If Kelly were to get drafted, it would be in the NBA’s second round. If Kelly is not drafted, options aren’t as abundant as they would be in a normal offseason.

Kelly anticipates that the NBA will impose a lockout on July 1. If so, there would be no NBA Summer League and it could put the future of the NBA’s D-League into jeopardy too if the lockout carries on into the fall. Speculation is that a NBA lockout could be long and protracted.

“It kind of hurts your plans because you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Kelly said.

The workouts themselves have been similar to what Kelly expected. The teams, who pay for all of the expenses for the participants, take the players through a battery of agility tests, intelligence exams, etc. During the workout itself, players mostly work in a 3-on-3 environment.

In Kelly’s case, the emphasis was on ball-handling, shooting accuracy and the ability to perform offensively and defensively in transition.

He said the Pacers and Wizards workouts differed in some ways. During the Pacers’ workout, Kelly worked in front of ISU greats Larry Bird (Pacers president) and Carl Nicks (Pacers scout).

“The Pacers worked me out almost exclusively with other combo guards,” Kelly said. “They said it was one of the most competitive workouts they had and I got good feedback from them.”

When Kelly went to Washington, he had just one other combo guard — Virginia Tech’s Malcolm Delaney — to work out against. Kelly tried out for Wizards head coach Flip Saunders and assistant coach Sam Cassell, among others.

“It was a lot of full-court and half-court workouts and some 1-on-1. In other ways, it was similar to the Pacers’ workout,” Kelly said.

Presuming he isn’t drafted, Kelly plans to move to Indianapolis and workout to keep his name in the minds of NBA front office executives. One emphasis Kelly said he intends to have is to work on his three-point shot.

The entire process has been an education for Kelly, but he hasn’t lost faith in being able to pursue his dream.

“After playing against some of these guys, I’ve gained confidence. I’ve found that the difference between this level and college is the pride and athleticism that everyone has. It’s still basketball, though, its just that there’s more size and it’s a lot quicker,” Kelly said.

No Indiana State player has suited up in the NBA since Bird’s career ended in 1992. The last ISU player that was drafted who played in the league was Nicks in 1980 (Bird was drafted in 1978).

Five Sycamores have played in the NBA (Bird, Nicks, Dick Atha, Duane Klueh and Bob Royer) since 1950 and six more (Alex Gilbert, Harry Morgan, Rich Mason, Butch Wade, Jerry Newsom, Len Rzewszewski) were drafted, but did not play in the league.

One-time Terre Haute

resident Greg Oden is the only current Hautean to play in the NBA as he is with Portland.

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