Sophomore Watch: Curtis Kelly

When the Gauchos took home three majors tournaments last summer, everyone pointed to guard play as the reason. Russell Robinson, Sundiata Gaines and Ronald Ramon may have been the three-headed monster, but without Curtis Kelly the team from New York wouldn't have dominated.

Kelly is a 6-8 ½, 210-pound sophomore who has added about 15 pounds since the end of the summer, when he established himself as one of the elite players in a loaded Class of 2006.

Unfortunately, the Bronx, N.Y., native hasn't had much of a chance to prove his worth during this high school season. Instead, he was sidelined for the team's first 18 games because of academics.

"It was really hard," Kelly said. "Real tough. But I tried to keep my head up and now I'm ready."

Kelly returned and came off the bench in each of his first three games back. He didn't score in five minutes in his return against Christ the King, then scored four points in about seven minutes against Amityville before breaking out with 16 points in 15 minutes against Chester (Pa.).

The performance against Chester earned him a start at the Prime Time Shootout against Mount Vernon, a game in which Rice lost. Kelly scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds in the setback.

Kelly is extremely athletic, runs the floor hard on both ends of the court and controls the glass and also alters plenty of shots on the defensive end. He'll still need to get stronger, work on his low-post game and improve the consistency on his mid-range jumper, but this is a kid oozing with seemingly limitless potential.

In addition to his abilities, Kelly has a personality to match.

"I just do everything my team asks of me," he said. "I knew I could have a good summer. I just needed to be put in the spotlight, but I haven't accomplished anything yet. I still have a ways to go."

The 15-year-old can only get questionnaires from colleges, but there's one school he's always wanted to go: North Carolina.

"That's my dream school," said Kelly, who also listed Texas, Miami and Virginia Tech as possibilities. "North Carolina probably has the highest percentage of kids going to the NBA. They have a nice campus and I can get a great education there. They've got everything you'd want in a team and they're in the top 10 almost every year."


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