By Seth Kinker, firstname.lastname@example.org
On Jan. 7, Devon Kelly, a senior forward for the Manchester Flying Dutchmen boys’ basketball team, 4-5 (1-4), committed to Concordia University Ann Arbor to play basketball.
The recruitment process was late, with Kelly only talking to Concordia since this past fall after sending out film.
Many things factored into his decision. He knew his roommate, Layne, through his church youth group and Layne’s dad is also Concordia Athletic Director Lonnie Pries.
“I just continued to talk to (head) coach (Ricky) Yahn and (assistant) coach (Kyle) Thoms,” said Kelly. “I went for a visit and I kind of just saw that it was a good fit for me, it just made a lot of sense.”
“Coach Yahn talked about needing a quicker big guy who’s able to get in and rebound and also get out and shoot outside,” continued Kelly. “I thought I would be able to fill that position well and so did he.”
Kelly began playing basketball in third grade and has been playing ever since. After middle school, he began playing travel basketball his freshman year in the offseason for more, and better, competition.
Growing up his main focus was soccer, he played in three out of four years at Manchester. But Kelly said his freshman year was when he began to see his potential on the hardwood and his focus started shifting to basketball.
Kelly said the constant traveling and playing year-round whether school or travel basketball helped him fall in love with the sport.
Entering high school, Kelly was supposed to be on junior varsity. He tried out for varsity and was told a year on junior varsity would suit him better. Three days later someone quit, and Kelly was asked if he wanted to play on varsity and he did.
“I think I surprised myself and my coaches a lot,” said Kelly of his varsity initiation his freshman year. “Just with more playing time than I thought I would get. I do think it was a good experience getting pulled up to varsity my freshman year. It was intimidating to say the least playing with people so much bigger, but I don’t regret it at all.”
Height wise he was fine, Kelly entered high school at 6’3” and has grown every year, now 6’8” entering his senior campaign, but his freshman year he was under 200 pounds.
Kelly started about half the games, not scoring many points but was constant defensive presence.
The summer of his freshman year he played for S3 Elite out of Chelsea, his sophomore year he played for Common Bond out of Ann Arbor, and this past summer he played for the Michigan Mustangs out of Detroit. They played in multiple tournaments during the summer around Michigan and placed well at a tournament in Kentucky, with this past year of travel ball being the best competition Kelly said he has faced.
Kelly has improved yearly, and his post season awards show it. He was named Most Improved his freshman year, All-Conference Honorable Mention his sophomore year, and Team MVP and Unanimous All-Conference his junior year.
Heading into this year Kelly was familiar with the new head coach, Mike Ahrens. Ahrens was an assistant coach for tryouts his freshman year but decided not to stay with the team.
“I knew of him,” said Kelly of the hire. “He kept in contact throughout the years. And then I found out when everyone else did. It’s been a great season so far, he’s a really great coach.”
This offseason Kelly wanted to work on a little bit of everything including ball handling, getting some more shots outside of the paint, and staying healthy.
Injuries have followed Kelly throughout his high school career and he reaggravated an ankle injury earlier this season missing three games as a result. Despite that, he is second on the team in scoring and leads the team in rebounding.
Kelly doesn’t know yet what he wants to major in but is leaning towards business and thinking about doing a program that can have him graduate in four years with a master’s degree in business.