Q&A with Ryan Kelly

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- Ryan Kelly's stock continues to soar. Now ranked the No. 29 prospect in the 2009 class, the junior power forward has recently added a scholarship offer from the Tar Heels to his list.

Kelly got off to a strong start at the Tournament of Champions, posting 16 points, eight rebounds and six blocks Friday night at the Smith Center.

Afterwards, the 6-9 Raleigh (N.C.) Ravenscroft standout talked at length about his recruitment ...

Can you tell us how hard UNC is recruiting you and have they made you an offer?

Yes, they've made me an offer. They have continued to watch me play and continued to watch me get better.

When did that offer happen?

The offer was made recently, in the past few weeks, that for sure I've been offered a scholarship by North Carolina.

If you wanted to commit right now to a school, could you?

I could, but I haven't had that gut feeling yet. I'm going to take my time trying to get to all these schools and find the best fit for me.

What do you think about the UNC program and how you'd fit in there?

Obviously it's a great program, Coach Williams is a great coach, they've got great players and a great history. One thing I can say about my game is I'm a pretty versatile player and I can fit into a lot of different offenses – UNC is one of the ones I can fit into.

Have any local programs been a favorite of yours growing up?

No, I was actually born in New York and I've never had a favorite college team up there. It's kind of in the middle of nowhere – Pawling, about an hour north of the city.

Who else has offered?

My list right now, in no particular order, is Carolina, Wake Forest, Virginia, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, Stanford, Georgetown, NC State and Davidson.

Most of those are private schools …

That's not necessarily how I'm looking at it. I'm just trying to find the best fit and part of that for me is academics. I'm a pretty good student – 4.2 GPA – so that's important to me. … I don't know what I want to study, but I know that with all these schools I can get a great education.

What did Roy Williams say he liked about your game?

He just thought I was a complete player. Obviously everyone needs to continue to get better – and I've got to continue to get better – but he sees potential in me, my ability to face up and shoot, run the floor and be a [post] presence.

Adding weight has been a focal point in your training …

That's part of my maturing as well. I just turned 17 in April, pretty young for my grade, and I lift three days a week with a weight trainer that played football here at North Carolina – Stephon McQueen – he's done a great job. I just want to continue to get stronger. I'm always going to be a lanky guy, but I've got to get sinewy strong and get as strong as possible.

Can you see yourself making any sort of early decision, such as before the season starts?

I haven't really thought of it that way. I'm just trying to find the best fit and whenever that time is, I really don't know.

Have you played any pickup ball with the Carolina guys?

I did … two days ago. Wednesday.

With Tyler [Hansbrough]?

He's obviously a great player. He's a hoss. He's huge … You can see the different level of competition in how hard they're playing and the effort they put in every play. That's something I need to work on all the time. …

Whenever I visit these places, I try to get a feel for the players not just as basketball players, but as human beings. You're going to be with those kids every day and every moment, so you've got to like them.

What kind of impression did the Carolina players make on you?

They're just great guys. Impressive to me was that they all went up to my parents and introduced themselves. … Just the guys coming up to me and congratulating me on good plays. They're just all great guys.

Did Tyler have any advice for you?

Well, I layed it in and he said: "Dunk the ball." That's what he told me. That was his advice.

That's got to be fun playing with different teams …

It is. I played with Kevin Durant a couple weekends ago up at Georgetown. That was neat. It's a great opportunity to get better.

What are you looking for in a college? What is it that's important to you?

Academics are important to me, but at the same time I know I can get a good education anywhere if I put myself to work. A head coach that's stable, and obviously a good head coach. And the guys on the team, not just positions but the people I'm going to be around are really important to me.

And how important will the input of your parents be?

My parents are doing a great job guiding me, but they've told me a million times that it's my decision. They've had their college experience. My dad played college basketball at Yale and overseas professionally, my mom played volleyball at Villanova and Penn.

Have you gotten far enough to start determining who your official visits will be with this fall?

No, sir.

Back in December when we talked with you, you'd said you hadn't gotten to the point yet of starting to determine which schools have set themselves apart. Are you any further along at this point?

At this point all those schools are pretty even. I'll go through June and July and cut that list down a little more and get a more concentrated list and that might be a time to figure out official visits. But I want to get through this June and July, match up with some great players, try out for the USA Basketball team and after July I'll cut it down a little more.

You also said the last time we spoke that Roy Williams hadn't said anything specific about offers, just that they'd keep recruiting you. Did he talk about what changed?

He got the opportunity to watch me play more, watch workouts, and he thought I fit well into their system and he really liked me as a player. The more he watched me, the more he liked me.

And that's a four-year scholarship offer – there's no red-shirt involved in that?

That's something you have to look at anyplace you go. I haven't made any decision like that, but anywhere you go you can do that.

So that isn't specific to North Carolina?

No, sir.

When you first stepped on campus here, what went through your mind?

Obviously this is a great university. The basketball tradition is great – the basketball museum is just amazing. Just the whole aura of the place is great … but at the same time when I go out on the court it's not about the surroundings – I'm on the court concentrating on the game.

It seems so different to watch you in AAU ball as opposed to your high school team – the style of play and your role …

It's a little different and that's part of my maturing as well. You've got to be able to play in a set system, but you also have to play in a type of game where you just go up and down and play. The one thing about AAU basketball is you get to play against the best players and in high school you don't always get that opportunity.

You blocked a lot of shots tonight …

I feel like I have pretty good timing with shotblocking. I averaged close to four a game this past year. I have a little bit of a knack for it.

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