Kellan Grady has made a significant impact at every step of his basketball journey.
The 23-year-old from West Roxbury won a Division 1 state championship with Catholic Memorial in 2016, earned first-team NEPSAC honors while leading Northfield Mount Hermon to a New England title during a post-grad year, helped Davidson to an Atlantic-10 title as a freshman, and broke 2,000 career points in the Wildcats’ season-ending 75-61 NIT loss to NC State March 18.
A week later, the 6-foot-5-inch, 205-pound guard decided to enter the NCAA transfer portal, choosing to use his extra year of eligibility (because of the pandemic) to play at Kentucky and boost his stock for a potential run at the NBA.
“I was speaking with a couple agents and it seemed unlikely I would get drafted,” said Grady Thursday. “Given the strange year with a lot of uncertainty, it might have been tough to get a two-way [NBA contract] or sign with a team, so considering all that, I decided it could enhance my ability to play in the NBA by competing at a higher level in a better conference.”
Grady joins a powerhouse program that had 31 alumni on NBA rosters at the start of the 2020-21 season, but is coming off its worst season (9-16 record) in a century, failing to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013.
Kentucky will need to fill the void created by top prospects Brandon Boston, Isaiah Jackson, and Boston native Terrence Clarke declaring for the NBA draft. A college veteran who averaged 17.1 points on 47 percent field goal shooting this past season, Grady should see a significant role.
“Having watched Kentucky this year, [Grady is] exactly what they need,” said 20-year Catholic Memorial coach Denis Tobin. “They need a mature kid to serve as a leader to their young players and show them how things are supposed to be done. It’s a great pickup for them.”
Elsewhere in the transfer portal, UMass star Carl Pierre — who led BC High to a Catholic Conference title in 2017 — will use his fifth year of eligibility to play at Rice University. The 6-foot-4 wing from Randolph will reunite with former BC High teammate Travis Evee, a sophomore guard who excelled at Vermont Academy and Virginia Military Academy before transferring to Rice in April 2020.
For Grady, transferring to Kentucky will allow him to pursue another dream.
From the time he was a 5-foot-11 freshman at CM, Grady dreamed of following in the footsteps of his idol, Stephen Curry, at Davidson. Originally he said his dream of playing Division 1 college basketball felt like a longshot, until he grew to 6-foot-3 by his sophomore year and 6-5 by the end of high school.
As he continued to thrive at Davidson, he began training in the Charlotte area with Blake Boehringer of Accelerate Basketball, with plans to play professionally in either the NBA or in Europe.
“[Grady’s] athleticism and shooting is going to take him a long way,” said former CM teammate Matt Hanna, a senior at Colby who is taking a year off to train with Boehringer.
“Being at Kentucky is like being a professional athlete. So we’re going to work on some of the principles of their offense, which is more run-and-gun like we used to do at CM, and focus on getting him ready.”
In June, Grady will head to Lexington to play under John Calipari, one of the most well connected college coaches in the country.
If all goes well, Grady could join the growing number of Massachusetts natives currently playing in the NBA.
“Coach Calipari, I think, has the best track record of producing NBA players and giving them the confidence to play with freedom and really expose their abilities in front of NBA eyes,” said Grady. “He has a very strong reputation within the NBA and people trust his word. That all meant a lot to me, as well as his belief in me having a big role on their team.”
“From what I’ve heard, he really fights for his players, and really has their back, and wants them all to reach their dreams.”