Jake Kelly: Late Bloomer

Indiana and Purdue were starting to move in on combo guard Jake Kelly, who Iowa had been recruiting for over a year. The pursuit proved to be too little, too late as Kelly committed to the Hawkeyes Tuesday morning. HN.com Senior Writer Rob Howe caught up with Kelly Tuesday to find out more about this rising recruit. Howe also offers a look at where the Hawkeyes go from here in the '07 class.

The Iowa men's basketball program may have slipped out of the Hoosier State with a recruit in which Indiana and Purdue wished they would have paid closer attention.

Carmel's Jake Kelly called Hawkeye Coach Steve Alford to offer his verbal commitment on Tuesday morning, a few days after finishing his official visit to Iowa City. NCAA rules prevent the Iowa staff from speaking about Kelly until he signs his national letter of intent in November.

Kelly (6-6, 175) joined Jarryd Cole and Dairese Gary as Hawkeye verbals in the 2007 class. A source close to the situation said Iowa hoped to give its last available scholarship in the class to Long Lake, Minn., power forward Jon Leuer, who has scheduled his official visit to Iowa City for the weekend of Sept. 30, when the football team plays Ohio State.

The source said Iowa was very happy with landing Kelly, who was described as being a very long, athletic combo guard with strong decision making skills and a smooth shot out to the 3-point line. He doesn't quite have the bursting first step of Adam Haluska, but he's a good athlete that can run and jump.

Kelly really gained attention this summer with his play at the Adidas Camp in Atlanta in early July and high Division I schools were starting to show a lot of interest. Iowa jumped on Jake last summer, and that helped land the late bloomer.

HN.com Senior Writer Rob Howe spoke with Kelly Tuesday afternoon and the following is a transcript of their conversation:

What made you commit to Iowa with interesting in you increasing and a visit to Penn State scheduled for next weekend?

Once I got to Iowa, I had a good feeling. It felt like I fit in real well with the teammates. Coach Alford viewed me as a player and saw what I could do there. I agreed with him. I think that whole program is in good shape. He put a little pressure on me (to commit), so I did it. (Laughs)

Who were the other schools involved with you in recruiting?

It was Penn State, Pepperdine, Saint Louis and Dayton. Those were the Top 5.

Did you visit those other schools?

Yeah, I visit all of those. And Valpo was in there. I hadn't visited Penn State yet. I was going there this weekend.

I heard you blossomed this summer and your stock rose. What do you think you did to make that happen?

I just had more confidence going into this year. Last year was my first time playing big time AAU. This year, I knew what to expect and I worked hard in the offseason.

Most guys start playing AAU when they can walk. Why did you wait until last year?

I did play AAU, but we didn't travel outside of the state and stuff.

What clicked for you that got you to the next level of AAU and then to Division I offers?

I just worked really hard. I worked out with my high school coach a lot. I've got a trainer here named Ed Schilling, who has worked me real hard. He works out pro guys and stuff. He helped me a lot. I always knew I could do it. I just needed a little strength.

How would you describe your game for someone that hasn't seen you play?

I'd say a versatile guard that can play the 1, 2 and 3. My best attributes are passing and shot making.

What position do you play in high school?

I play all three.

What type of statistic did you have last year, roughly?

Last year was a tough year. I averaged 12 points and like seven rebounds and five assists. The year before that I averaged 22, 5 and 5.

What happened last year to make your scoring drop?

Well, I moved to Carmel and was getting used to a whole new system. I mean, it's a whole other style of play. We play real slow paced. We play a lot of good teams, too.

Where to you come to Carmel from, Jake?

Marshall, Ill.

So, when did Iowa start recruiting you?

As soon I got on the Indiana Elite AUU squad. My coach is good friends with Alford. He told him about me. They started watching me last year, and this year they saw me improve a lot. They decided to make an offer, I guess.

Did you get to know Coach Alford?

I did, and I think he's a great guy.

Was it Coach Alford and Coach Neal that recruited you?

It was Coach Buckley, also. All three of those guys. They all recruited me about the same amount.

When did the scholarship offer come?

The offer came in August. They really started to recruit me harder after the Adidas Camp down in Atlanta (in July 6-9).

Did you notice that other major DI schools were starting to pick up on you after that camp?

Oh, yeah, definitely. I started to get serious looks from Virginia, Washington State, Wake Forest, Indiana, Purdue, all kinds of places.

How attractive were Indiana and Purdue being as they were close to home?

I was interested in them. Neither school had offered, but I felt they were on their way. I felt like Iowa was the best fit for me.

Did it make a difference that Iowa was on your early and just didn't jump on recently?

Yeah, a lot of high majors started to come on after July, but Iowa has always been around and that made a difference to me.

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