Davidson’s Kellan Grady tunes out NBA ‘noise’
Kellan Grady heard the noise last spring and wanted nothing to do with it. Fresh off a season during which he averaged 18.0 points for the Davidson Wildcats and was named the Atlantic 10’s rookie of the year, Grady became a figure in what has be- come a cottage industry of predicting future NBA drafts.
Google the words “Kellan Grady 2019 NBA mock draft” and there he is, his name popping up all over the place.
Grady knew about it and ignored it.
“Initially it was tricky,” said Grady. “A lot of my friends would send me online stuff that said I had the potential to be a draft choice next year. But if you think about this stuff, it’s not going to do you any good. I’m just going to focus on being the best player I can be. Then my ultimate dream will come true.”
For Grady to make that jump so quickly, of course, would mean for him to leave school early. An athletic 6-foot-5 combo guard, Grady enters his sophomore season with no designs on doing that.
“(He has) maturity,” said Bob McKillop, who’s entering his 30th year as Davidson’s coach.
“Kellan stays focused on helping his teammates and he stays focused on getting better every day.
“His head could have been filled with the noise and all this chatter from social media about being a draft pick here or a draft pick there. He’s put the blinders on about that and he’s done a great job of that.”
What Grady said he’s more concerned about now is helping theWildcats return to the NCAA tournament, which they did for a 14th time in program history last season after winning the Atlantic 10 tournament. Davidson opens its season Tuesday against Cleveland State at Belk Arena.
Grady played a complementary role last season alongside forward Peyton Aldridge, the A-10’s co-player of the year who is playing professionally in Europe. Now, with ample support from players like junior guard Jon Axel Gudmundsson and another potential freshman find in forward Luka Brajkovic, Grady will be Davidson’s go-to guy.
McKillop’s system has long fostered a team-first approach, with several players capable of carrying the scoring load on any given night. But the Wildcats also regularly have one player who stands out above the rest. Since the Stephen Curry era, there’s been De’Mon Brooks, Jake Cohen, Tyler Kalinoski, Jack Gibbs and Aldridge.
Now Grady appears ready to fill that role.
“I think it’s a privilege,” Grady said. “I feel fortunate to be in this position. I’m embracing taking that primary role this season. Being able to be the face of the program is a humbling experience.”
Once Grady got the NBA draft noise out of his head, he went to work preparing for this season. Although he’s listed as 10 pounds lighter (185) than his playing weight as a freshman, Grady said he’s gained weight. He worked with a trainer during the spring and summer to help diversify his offense, one that was already efficient, as evidenced by his 50.1 shooting percentage (37.2 from 3-point range) from last season.
“I’m trying to expand my scoring ability overall,” Grady said. “I’m working on the consistency of my shot overall. I want to be more of a multi-dimensional scorer.”
McKillop also wants Grady to more involved in playing point guard, a role he’ll share with Gundmundsson and KiShawn Pritchett. But much will also be asked of Grady off the court. Although he’s not one of the team’s captains (those are senior forward Nathan Ekwu and ju- niors Gudmundsson and Pritchett), Grady will be one of the team’s leaders.
“Everything Kellan does, shoot, pass or dribble, play great defense — but he’s a great leader,” said redshirt freshman guard Luke Frampton. “He leads in how he plays. He’s different in that way. He’s one of the great role models on the team.”
There’s plenty of evidence Grady is savoring his time at Davidson and that he’s still enjoying his time as a college kid. While talking about the Wildcats’ non-conference schedule, he mentioned looking forward to playing in ACC arenas at Wake Forest and North Carolina. But he also said he’s eagerly anticipating home games against Dartmouth and Northeastern, because both teams have players he knows from his high school days in Massachusetts. McKillop perhaps said it best. “When you leave Belk Arena, you go upstairs and I invariably see this happen,” McKillop said. “There are glass doors that people push through because they see the outside through the glass. They don’t notice the little sign on them that says ‘emergency exit.’ Isn’t it interesting, because if it was a solid door, you’d see that sign.
“With a glass door, you look out and see the future. You don’t see what’s in front of you. Kellan is looking to see what’s in front of him, rather than what’s through the glass door. That’s pretty mature for him to do that.”
Davidson sophomore Kellan Grady, right, pictured Thursday night against Washington & Lee in an exhibition at Belk Arena, was the Atlantic 10 Freshman of the Year last season. Grady is focused on Davidson returning to the NCAA tournament and not his NBA future.
Kellan Grady of Davidson listens to head coach Bob McKillop during a timeout against Washington & Lee at Belk Arena on Thursday. Grady finished with 20 points as Davidson won 116-56.