Kelley Nabs National Honor

Former USC point guard Tre' Kelley had a goal in mind when he came to Columbia four years ago - make it to the Final Four and hoist the trophy. Despite the Gamecocks not making the postseason this year, Kelley still has the opportunity to be in Atlanta picking up some hardware at the Final Four.

On Wednesday, Kelley was named winner of the Frances Pomeroy Naismith award, which is given to the nation's top collegiate basketball player 6 feet tall or under.

"In my mind it was a landslide. I'm sure there was a great deal of competition from other players throughout the country," USC coach Dave Odom said. "The Pomeroy Naismith award panel saw I think the things that we here at South Carolina have seen here for four years."

After finishing the season as the No. 1 scorer in league play, Kelley was named to both the coaches and AP All-SEC First Teams. His overall average of nearly 19 points per outing was good enough for No. 2 in the conference.

The award, which was started in 1969, has seen many illustrious basketball players take it home throughout the years, including names like Tyrone Bogues, Tim Hardaway, Early Boykins and Jameer Nelson.

"After reading the group of guys who have received this award in the past, it's just an honor to me," Kelley said. "It definitely reflects the great season I had individually and the great four years I had with my career as a South Carolina basketball player."

"Those are great names to come behind. Those guys, I've looked up to in the past (and) looked for different moves, different skills, different things they've done on the basketball court."

Kelley was also announced as one of four finalists for the Chip Hilton Award, given to the nation's top basketball player. The award is given to players with outstanding traits both on and off the court, similar to the Chip Hilton book series about an Indiana basketball player.

The Washington, D.C. native joins stand out players Acie Law IV (Texas A&M), Alando Tucker (Wisconsin) and Adam Haluska (Iowa) as the finalists for the award that will be announced Monday in Atlanta.

"To put him in that kind of company speaks volumes about Tre's personal side, as well as his basketball achievements," Odom said.

Kelley, who is recovering from knee surgery, will make the trip pending doctors and class schedule approval. The surgery kept Kelley out of the Portsmith Invitational, with fellow senior Brandon Wallace, for some of the nation's best basketball prospects, but with rehabilitation going well, Kelley hopes to be back on the court in time for the Pre-Draft Camp in Florida.

Kelley hopes that these kinds of awards and hard work will bring him more success on the hardwood.

"After your four years are up, you know that however much hard work, dedication and determination you put into basketball, and what you do as a basketball player and person, accomplishments like this will come about," Kelley said.

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