It’s not hard to find Will Kelly when you arrive at the gym and watch the Stuart Cramer High School basketball team warm up.
The team, from Belmont, wear purple uniforms. Kelly loves her bright green Nike Kobe Bryants.
“It’s my special shoe,” Kelly said. “They stand out a lot.”
And when the game starts, it’s even easier to tell who Will Kelly is, with or without the neon shoes. It also stands out a lot.
In the past two weeks, there haven’t been too many high school players in America as hot as him. Two weeks ago, Kelly scored 130 points in three games, including 50 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals in an 85-67 win over Hunter Huss.
This week, for a refresher, Kelly scored 126 points in three games, including Friday night when he had 43 points, six rebounds and four assists against Kings Mountain.
Kelly is like… Trae Young?
A self-proclaimed “sneakerhead” with 115 pairs in his closet, Kelly has a knack for scoring. He’s tall enough, at 6-foot-3, to ride it, and he can pull it a long way.
“I can’t put myself in a category,” he said, “If you take my 3-ball away from me, I have options. If I drive to the hole, I have more options. options… I’ve always been good at attacking the (basket) and once I started getting this really nice sweater, it was deadly. It’s pick your poison.
Yes, that sounds a bit arrogant, but Kelly talks about her game the way you talk about choosing the fish or chicken dish with your server.
And his coach, and other coaches, tend to agree on his talent.
“Look, Will Kelly can score crazy numbers,” said Westminster Catawba head coach Ed Addie. “You know who he reminds me of? (Atlanta Hawks NBA star) Trae Young. That’s how he plays. He scores like Trae – shoots everywhere and goes to the basket.
This year, North Carolina has the top three scorers in the nation: In Waynesville, Haywood Christian’s Caleb Senyo leads the nation with 37.5 points per game. No. 2 is New Life Christian’s Xavier Whitaker of Rocky Mount at 36.3; and No. 3 is Zeke Cannedy of Kings Mountain at 35.7.
Where are the colleges?
Kelly, a 6-foot-3 senior guard, is rapidly rising up the charts, now up to No. 40 in America. He also helped his team to a 16-5 start. The college coaches, however, aren’t knocking on his door yet.
Kelly, averaging 28.6 points and 8.3 rebounds with a 4.0 GPA, said he has offers from Division III Johnson and Wales, Division II Lees-McCrae and from Columbia International, an NAIA school.
Is he under-recruited?
“Absolutely. One hundred percent,” Stuart Cramer’s coach Brad Sloan said.
Sloan believes the main reason Kelly hasn’t landed multiple Division I offers is that coaches are discouraged by the number of schools he has played at.
“I think a lot of coaches just take certain moves he’s had as negative,” Sloan said, “and if they give us time to explain the situation, there’s nothing negative.”
A different path
Kelly began her career at South Point High School in Belmont, Sloan said, before her family moved to an apartment in the Stuart Cramer area. So Kelly played his freshman year at South Point, his second year at Stuart Cramer. When COVID-19 hit and it appeared public schools might not be playing, Kelly’s family decided to move to privateer Gaston Christian, which promised a basketball season.
Kelly, a junior, helped Gaston Christian reach an unlikely state title game in which he scored 22 points, though his team lost to Asheville Christian and Florida State rookie DeAnte Green.
For his senior season, Kelly transferred to Westminster Catawba to join a team that would include Virginia Tech rookie MJ Collins, a 6-5 wing, forming an elite backcourt. But according to Sloan, Westminster Catawba, an SC private school, did not recognize Kelly for all of the classes he took at Gaston Christian.
“The schedule they gave him,” Sloan said, “he was going to school all day and taking classes at night (online) to make up for the hours he wasn’t given.”
Ed Addie, the Westminster coach, said there were two classes involved. Addie said one was included in Kelly’s schedule and the other wasn’t offered at school, but he could take it online, and suggested Kelly take it. use his study hall to do so.
In the end, Kelly decided — after a short stint making the nearly hour-long daily commute from Belmont to Rock Hill — that he would come home and finish his senior year in his purple uniform and his green shoes.
It seems to have been a win-win for everyone.
“He’s got a 4.06 GPA and he’s probably done three Bs in his life,” Sloan said. “He’s a very mature young man and a good student and I tell coaches this story all the time: When COVID hit and everyone went virtual, he had a team sports physical education class. and I was good friends with the teacher. He texted me and said out of 30 guys, Will was the only one doing his homework online. It’s PE class and the kids don’t care. Will always does his job. It’s indicative of the type of player and person he is.
Sloan said more D1 and D2 coaches are starting to show interest and he thinks that will only follow, especially if Kelly – the No. 2 public school leading scorer in North Carolina – maintains its blistering pace.
And he has no intention of stopping.
“I’m locked in,” he said. “I want to get us to the playoffs and I felt like it was the best time of the year to try to do that. The first game when I was 40 (points) this year, I let it fly and it was fine, and after that the rim was just huge. Man, I just don’t want this to end.
NC top scorers
Here are the top 10 boys and girls scorers, on average, in North Carolina
|1.||Caleb Senyo (Haywood Christian)||37.5|
|2.||Xavier Whitaker (New Life Christian)||36.3|
|3.||Zeke Cannedy (Kings Mountain)||35.7|
|4.||DJ Dillon (Rock Church)||33.7|
|5.||Trevor Button (Emerson Waldorf)||32.1|
|6.||Will Kelly (Stuart Cramer)||28.6|
|seven.||Nasir Bell (Thales Academy Rolesville)||28.4|
|8.||Preston Neel (Christian family)||28.0|
|9.||Dwight Canada (Hendersonville)||26.7|
|ten.||Takorrie Faison (Goldsboro)||26.7|
|1.||Ka’Nyah O’Neal (south side)||31.3|
|2.||Emily Hege (North Davidson)||27.6|
|3.||Nakira Bullock (Warren County)||27.5|
|4.||Jayda AngelCap Fear||26.7|
|5.||Daneesha Briggs (Beddingfield)||26.6|
|6.||Ma’Nyah Thomas-Wilson (Whitewater Christian)||25.3|
|seven.||Joyasia Smith (RS Central)||25.1|
|8.||Sarah Strong (Grace Christian)||24.9|
|9.||Jerni Kiaku (Garner)||24.7|
|ten.||Ashanti Lynch (North Lenoir)||24.4|
– Source: MaxPreps (through matches on Friday, February 4)