Senior Sean Kelly added to Duke basketball roster
Duke's star-studded recruiting class of Grayson Allen, Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow gained a fifth member—another household name.
Senior Sean Kelly—younger brother of former Blue Devil Ryan Kelly—will join Duke as a walk-on for the 2014-15 season. Kelly served as one of the team's student managers for each of the past three seasons.
"I'm so excited. It's such a great opportunity," Kelly said. "You're talking about maybe the greatest coach in any sport ever. I got to learn from him for three years as a manger, and now I get to learn from him as a player."
A 6-foot-3, 190-pound guard, Kelly was an added surprise when the Blue Devils released their official roster Wednesday afternoon. Associate head coach Jeff Capel informed Kelly he had made the team last weekend.
This isn't the first time head coach Mike Krzyzewski has taken one of his managers as a walk-on. Guard Casey Peters walked onto the team in 2009 after spending two years as a manger—he went on to win a national championship with the Blue Devils that season.
Kelly never planned to walk on when he was accepted as a team manager in the fall of 2011. He set that goal in January and immediately began working on his conditioning.
"As I watched for three years, I just wanted to be a part of it," he said. "I kind of on my own started getting in shape and shooting and playing a lot, and then when I thought it was a good time I met with Coach Capel and started coming to workouts."
Kelly stayed on campus for Duke's first summer session and worked out with guards Quinn Cook and Nick Pagliuca, forward Semi Ojeleye and center Marshall Plumlee before ultimately being offered a spot on the roster.
The Ravenscroft School product played two years of high school basketball and made it up to the junior varsity level by his sophomore year before opting to focus on baseball year-round during his junior and senior seasons in hopes of playing collegiately. When the former first baseman opted to attend Duke instead of play baseball at the Division III level, basketball came back into the foreground.
"I put the baseball thing to bed, and when I got to Duke and started being around basketball it just all came back," Kelly said. "I was playing every day, and I just fell back in love with it."
Although Kelly likely won't see many minutes next season, he said he plans to make the most of his opportunities when Krzyzewski calls his name.
"I can shoot it a little bit. I was fortunate enough to get that trait from my dad and older brother," he said. "I've been working very hard to get more athletic and put the ball on the floor a bit. I'd like to think I'm a smart basketball player, which is something I can bring to the team."
Kelly's older brother Ryan—who was a Duke captain for the 2011-12 season and now plays in the NBA—wore No. 34 for the Blue Devils, which had been recently vacated by Andre Dawkins before Rice transfer Sean Obi took it. Sean Kelly said he wouldn't have taken his brother's number either way, opting to wear No. 42 instead in an homage to his baseball roots.
"I have a great love and respect for baseball, and that being Jackie Robinson's number, I thought that was awesome," Kelly said. "Our last No. 42 was Lance Thomas, and he won a national championship. They could have given me any number and I would be happy."