Kelly eyes opportunity to play professionally


Ryan Fischer

Marshall University senior James Kelly handles the ball during a game against the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Feb. 18 at the Cam Henderson Center.

Marshall University men’s basketball senior James Kelly’s career at the university will soon come to an end.

Kelly said after the conference tournament ends, he plans to play in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in Portsmouth, Virginia.

The tournament, which provides seniors from across the nation the opportunity to be scouted by professional basketball coaches, will be held April 13-16.

“After the PIT tournament, I have some NBA team tryouts with the 76ers and the Chicago Bulls,” Kelly said.

Kelly said he started playing basketball his junior year of high school and considers himslf to be fairly new to the sport.

Though the power forward averaged 20.6 points and 9.9 rebounds per game this season, Kelly said he knows there are critics who question if he is “NBA material.”

“The NBA is difficult for anybody,” Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni said. “If he matures his game a little bit, with his size and skills, I think he could definitely make a career for himself in the NBA.” 

If the NBA does not pan out for him, Kelly said he is confident he will receive professional basketball offers overseas.

Kelly said teams in France and Belgium have him on their radar and he anticipates more offers by the end of the season.

Kelly, who was recently named first team All-Conference USA, said he was honored to receive the recognition considering he sat out last season as a Division I NCAA transfer.

Kelly played for the University of Miami before transferring to Marshall in 2014.

“Before I saw James Kelly, the coach from UAB told me I had an all-conference player,” D’Antoni said. “Since then, James has definitely lived up to that and has earned it.”

The Herd begins its C-USA Championship Tournament Thursday in Birmingham, Alabama.

Danielle Wright can be contacted at [email protected]