Kentucky’s first transfer commitment of the offseason is official, as the school announced the signing of Davidson star guard Kellan Grady on Monday afternoon.
Grady, a two-time All-Atlantic 10 First Team member, averaged 17.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest to go with a career-high 38.2% shooting clip from beyond the arc.
What does it mean for the program, one in desperate need of a turnaround season in 2021-22?
“First, I want to express my eternal gratitude for Davidson College, Coach McKillop and his entire staff for giving me the opportunity to represent Davidson for the last four years,” Grady said in an official statement. “It has truly been an incredible experience and has made me a better player — and more importantly, a better person.
“With that said, I’m very excited to be a Wildcat again and play for Coach Calipari at the University of Kentucky. It is a tremendous opportunity to compete at the highest level and pursue my dreams. I’m grateful for the opportunity and eager to get to work.”
“Kellan has established himself as one of the best players in the country,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “His size, his skills, his scoring ability and his playmaking ability speak volumes to the player that he is. Kellan played in a great program under a terrific coach, Bob McKillop. He is a four-year starter whose toughness and fight will add to our team. His game-to-game consistency – his scoring, his ability to share the ball and his defense – is part of what makes him special, and we are ecstatic to have him join a team that was close last season but needed what he gives us to get over to the top.”
Kentucky gets its shooting help
A 6-foot-5 guard originally out of Boston, MA, Grady averaged at least 17.1 points per game in all four years at Davidson, finishing his time with the program with 2,002 career points. He became just the sixth player in program history to reach that milestone.
As a shooter, Grady has knocked down 240 career 3-pointers and has made at least 51 shots from deep in all four seasons as a Wildcat, including 21 career games with at least four 3-pointers made in a single game. He shot a career-best 38.2% from three in 2020-21, knocking down 58 shots from deep on 152 total attempts.
As a senior this past season, Grady finished the year scoring 20-plus points in nine games, along with adding 14 points against No. 17 Texas, 17 points against Providence, 22 points against UNLV, 19 points against Vanderbilt and 27 points against Dayton, among other standout performances.
Back in 2018, Grady’s Davidson squad took on Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament in the opening round, with the newest Wildcat scoring 16 points and grabbing four rebounds in a head-to-head matchup with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Unlike this past year with Olivier Sarr and Jacob Toppin, there will not be a wait to find out Grady’s eligibility status next season.
Set to graduate with an undergraduate degree in sociology in May, the newest Wildcat will be officially classified as a graduate transfer, making him immediately eligible for the 2021-22 season.
Kentucky needs immediate shooting help, and they’re getting it with Grady set to take the floor in the fall.
The 2021-22 roster is taking shape
In the weeks following Kentucky’s season-ending loss to Mississippi State in the SEC Tournament, Devin Askew, Dontaie Allen, Lance Ware and Jacob Toppin have all either confirmed their returns to Lexington next season themselves (Ware, Toppin) or their parents have done so (Askew, Allen).
BJ Boston (NBA Draft), Terrence Clarke (NBA Draft) and Cam’Ron Fletcher (transfer) are the only confirmed departures, with Isaiah Jackson and Olivier Sarr both expected to test the draft waters before officially forgoing their remaining eligibility and making the jump to the pros. Five anticipated or confirmed departures in all.
From there, Keion Brooks Jr. and Davion Mintz are the lone holdouts on final decisions, with the latter contemplating a return for a sixth and final season at the collegiate level after the NCAA granted a blanket waiver for one free year of eligibility to all athletes participating in winter sports during the 2020-21 season.
With Brooks and Mintz, Kentucky’s roster unofficially stands at 11 scholarship players with Askew, Allen, Ware, Toppin, Grady, Oscar Tshiebwe, Daimion Collins, Nolan Hickman and Bryce Hopkins. With just one or neither, you’re still looking at 10 or nine scholarship bodies on the roster, at minimum.
Factor in Kentucky’s strong push for Auburn guard Justin Powell, who is expected to make a final decision in the near future with UK holding firm as a top contender, along with a growing list of impressive names joining the portal each day, John Calipari could get close to the 13-man scholarship limit in 2021-22.
And more importantly, it will be a clear upgrade in pure scoring and shooting from one year ago, along with the continued development of last year’s rotation players.
More than an athlete
Grady is known for his shooting and scoring, but the Boston native also wants to be known for the work he puts in off the basketball floor.
Earlier this month, Grady wrote an article for VISIBLE Magazine highlighting his grandparents’ fight against apartheid in South Africa in the 1950s and 1960s and how it inspired him to start his own program called College Athletes for Respect and Equality (CARE).
“I still want to be an NBA player. I’m an athlete, and that’s always been my goal. However, as much as I love playing basketball, at the end of the day what I really want is to make a difference and to inspire other people to make a difference,” Grady wrote. “As I watched a country in tumult, I realized that as a college basketball player, I had a unique opportunity to use my platform to put my frustrations and sentiments to good use and at the same time provide an educational resource for the younger generation to help inspire and empower them and bring issues like racial equality and social justice to the forefront.
“… Our mission (with CARE) is to raise awareness about systemic racial injustice to create change and promote human dignity and equality by educating and empowering the next generation.”
You can read the newest Wildcat’s article in its entirety here: “Hoop Dreams and Human Dignity,” by Kellan Grady