Key Stats (2009-10): 93.7 Offensive Rating, 13.5 percent of possessions, 18 percent assist rate, 16.1 percent turnover rate, 2.0 fouls called per 40 minutes (157th in the nation).
2010-11 Season Key Players - Jeremiah Kelly, DePaul
This is the third in a series of five posts previewing five players that are going to be keys to the 2010-11 college basketball season in Chicago. (One for each school.) These profiles aren't necessarily about the best player, but a player I expect will make a meaningful impact this season.
While he was miscast as a point guard for Jerry Wainwright's teams, Jeremiah Kelly has always had the potential to be a good shooting guard. Now in a system that should maximize his talents, he has the opportunity to show the work he's put in. Still, Kelly will never be the type of player that will take over a game and ultimately that will hurt the impact he can make on a basketball court.
For the past two seasons 6'1 guard Kelly has had to play point guard. He split time there last season with Michael Bizoukas and never got to just shoot the basketball. While a streaky shooter, he's already had some excellent shooting games. Now with arrival of Oliver Purnell and - perhaps more importantly - Brandon Young, Kelly isn't going to have to play point guard any longer. How is this going to impact his game?
The stats above show why Kelly played point guard in Wainwright's offense. He didn't turn the ball over much and he was able to stay on the court because he didn't foul opposing players. Still, he was a somewhat subpar offensive player, mainly due to an effective field goal percentage of 41.1, which stemmed from his 29 percent shooting from beyond the arc last season.
Now, saying that a player shot who 29 percent from three-point range is a good candidate to move to shooting guard seems silly at first glance, but here's why it makes sense to me. Kelly is a much better standing jump-shooter than a creator. Asking him to get his own shot isn't the right strategy, he also shot 38.7 percent overall. But if he can have someone set him up, I believe he'll be much more effective.
That scenario partly played out on Saturday against Northwood. Kelly started at the off-guard position and went 4-4 from beyond the arc and scored 17 points in 29 minutes. Pico Dulce of The East Coast Bias had this to say about that effort, "[Kelly] looked good shooting. REALLY good. Took the open shot decisively, drove the lane to probe, looked good on defense. He got hot in the second half."
Of course, Kelly did all that while taking just seven shots total. Which I think also says a lot about his game. It's always been the case that Kelly doesn't force things offensively, maybe to the point of not looking for his game enough. His freshman and sophomore seasons he had a usage rate right around 14 percent of all possessions (while playing "on the ball") and on Saturday that number dropped even further to 10.8 percent. He might always be a bit limited by his preference for deferring to his teammates.
Kelly has the skills to be an effective shooting guard, but he needs to let himself grow into that role and not be afraid to take shots. It'll be interesting to see how he transitions into that position this season and if he'll give the Blue Demons a reliable backcourt option on offense.