Kelly Gets A Better Feel For Notre Dame

As he takes his official visits to respective college programs, the biggest thing for Ryan Kelly is hanging out with the current players on that team, and playing pickup to see how he gels with the guys.

At Notre Dame this weekend, the five-star forward from Raleigh, N.C., was able to get a great feel for how he'd fit in with the team, if he chose to don an Irish jersey.

"The most fun I have, is when I'm just playing with the guys, because then I get the opportunity to see how I match-up with these guys, and I get a chance to know and gel with them on them on the floor," Ryan Kelly explained.

"I really liked them," the 6-foot-10 ½, 205-pound Ravenscroft standout continued about the Notre Dame's players. "Some really nice guys. They took me in and I had a good time with them."

Kelly, who played on USA's U-18 team that brought home Silver this past summer, has already narrowed down his list of finalists, and is in the process of taking official visits. He has already been to Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and now Notre Dame. Kelly will travel to Georgetown next week, and will also check out Duke and North Carolina one more time before making a verbal commitment.

"I feel like I'll have a gut feeling," Kelly said. "I want to get it over with before the start of the season, that's the wrong way of putting it, make the right decision before the season starts and be able to play with that off my mind."

Kelly's trip to South Bend this past weekend was his second to Notre Dame. He was in the stands in February for the Irish's 94-87 win over Syracuse last season. All-American and Big East Player of the Year Luke Harangody was his host this time around.

"I had a really good time, it was a fun visit," Kelly stated.

"I got in on Friday morning, right around lunch time, and had lunch with coach (Brey) and kind of got settled. Met a few people, met the President and a teacher and went and lifted. I got my lift in because I didn't want to miss my Friday lift. Played some pickup and then went to dinner and hung out with the guys that night. Saturday morning, I got up and played some more pickup and then got some food, and went over to the football game.

"Basically after the game, I got the opportunity to hang out with the guys as much as possible, which I wanted to do, hang out with them, and get a feel for them."

Kelly was also able to get a better feel for a couple of the guys already verbally committed to the Irish's 2009 recruiting class. Jack Cooley and Joey Brooks were also in town on official visits.

"I've been talking to both of them," Kelly said. As a junior the versatile forward averaged 23.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and four blocks per game. "Jack was on my NBA Players Association camp team. And Joey, I've also been talking to him through the phone."

Brey's been on the phone with Kelly's Ravenscroft coach Kevin Billerman on several occasions, and been by the school a couple of times. Billerman was a player and captain at Duke in the 70s, and the current Irish coach got to know him while he was an assistant for the Blue Devils in the 80s and early 90s.

"My coach at Ravenscroft, coach Billerman, has known him for a lot of years and they're friends, and he speaks highly of him as well," Kelly said.

Kelly got to know Brey even better on this visit.

"He's a real nice guy. He felt I fit in really well into their offense, and said I'd be able to have some freedoms to do a lot of things offensively, be able to play inside and outside. That was something he felt was important."

Playing pickup ball twice with team, showed Kelly what Brey was talking about.

"It was certainly a little different. Even their offense during the season, they have a lot of freedom for their players which is neat to see. Obviously there were some pretty good players out there and they're going to be good. I thought I held my own well."

Besides getting to hang out and play with the team, going to the Notre Dame-Michigan football game on Saturday was the highlight of Kelly's trip.

"It was pretty amazing," he said. "The atmosphere was great. The students were going crazy."

They'll be going crazy again if Kelly chooses Notre Dame in the end.


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories