Kellan Grady has played a lot of college basketball. In four years at Davidson was an all-conference player each season, twice earning first team honors in the Atlantic-10. No disrespect to Atlantic-10 basketball, but it’s a little different than playing with the big boys.
One of his first introductions to that level of play was against Kentucky in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Just a freshman for the Wildcats, he recalls one eye-opening moment from early in the game.
“There were a couple times where I thought I made a really nice move that would’ve probably been two points in the A-10. Then I think it was Sacha (Killeya-Jones) and Hamidou (Diallo) just beat it off the glass a couple times. I adjusted, but I remember that. That was kind of a welcome to the Tournament, but also welcome to big-time college basketball (moment),” he told reporters Tuesday.
That blocked shot set the tone for a subpar shooting night from Grady. He made only 4-of-15 attempts, but knocked down 7-of-8 free throws to score 16 points. He added four rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot in 37 minutes of action, including a contested floater that put Davidson within two points during a second half rally.
“As a team we started off the first four minutes or so pretty hot. We got kind of rusty, then settled in the second half, myself included. It was a nail-biter. Then obviously I wish we would have won but I can live with it a little more now.”
Kentucky eventually pulled away with a 78-73 first round win in Boise. A victory over Buffalo advanced the Wildcats to the Sweet 16 where they would fall to Kansas State.
Entering his final college basketball season as a grad transfer at Kentucky, Grady is well aware of the adjustments he needs to make to be an efficient scorer in the SEC.
“There’s obviously a competition difference to some degree from the SEC to the A-10. I think an other inch or two at most positions and a little more athleticism and speed and quickness that I’ll have to adjust to, but I thing those are all good challenges and I think I will fit in with this team,” Grady said.
Grady could have taken his talents to the professional ranks. Instead he chose to prove to pro scouts that he can succeed against Power Five talent on a regular basis.
“It’s a huge deal of why I wanted to be here, competing against SEC players everyday in practice prepares you one for the games of course, but also for the next level. That’s an experience you can only get at a certain amount of schools. Obviously, some teams have the ability in the A-10 or American Conference, whatever it may be, they have the ability to turn it on for a game or two. In some cases it doesn’t matter where you’re playing, but 100% behooves you to be able to do that everyday in practice and in games.”