CJ Kelley

Basketball standout discusses why he plays the game, outlook on team’s season


Story by TJ Wall, sports editor

How did you get started playing basketball?

I started playing football at first, and then I changed my mind and decided to play basketball when I was eight. I played for an AAU team with Matt [Arnold], Caleb [Arnold] and everybody else. I wasn’t good at first. I actually started getting better around middle school.

What motivates you to keep playing?

My mom. She pushes me everyday to get better and better. My dad does too, but it’s mainly my mom because I stay with her. If I don’t want to go outside and shoot, my mom will force me to go outside and get better. It gives me a way to help my family. It’s fun, and it’s something I’d like to get paid to do.

What does this year’s team look like compared to last year’s?

We’ve got a young team—way younger team. Last year we only had like two sophomores; this year we have maybe four or five [sophomores], four seniors and a couple of juniors coming from football, so we’re going to have a young team—but we should be good though.

How will everyone mesh together and play as a team?

This is my first time playing with everybody on the team because all the seniors from last year are gone. I actually get to play with my friends for the first time since freshman year. I’ll also get to play with Jay [Goodwin], Mike

[Thomas] and all of the sophomores to see how they play and get used to playing with them. I don’t have Kyle [Wright], Cole [Drumm], key players from last year, but I’ve got some seniors that are ready to step up and play.

How do you think the team will do with the loss of last year’s seniors, such as Kyle Wright and Cole Drumm?

I think we still have a good chance, but like I said, it’s still going to be a young team. They’ve got to have a good mindset because they’re still young and they’ve still got some growing to do. Since Cole and Kyle are gone we’re going to have some people step up and be the lead scorers, but I think we should go far—maybe even to state. AJ [Meeks] can step up for Cole. Mike, he can play so he can step up for Kyle, but he’s the only sophomore. He’s got some growing to do, but still, he can step up for Kyle.

As the only senior, how will you motivate your teammates?

[I can] keep them motivated and make them take in more assists.

What’s your advice to the younger kids on the team?

Always take assists and don’t wait until the last minute or your senior year to try. Stay dedicated. Never wait until your junior or senior year to start practicing, because you want to get as good as you think you can be, then you’ll be better off.

How do you feel about the return of coach Skinner?

I like him. He’s less strict than Coach Jones. He lets us play more freely, and he’s just a good coach overall. We really don’t have many plays this year; we just go with the flow, but last year we had a lot of plays, so it’s more free ball than last year.

What’s your favorite NBA team?

My favorite team is wherever [Kevin Durant] is, so right now that’s the [Brooklyn] Nets.

Talk about the colleges that have recruited you so far.

I’ve got offers from Samford, New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech. The only one I’ve visited so far is Louisiana Tech, and I like it there, but I’m going to have to get to Samford and New Mexico State to see what it’s like.

How are you going to work to further your future in basketball?

I’m going to work out and get stronger and bigger. I just have to get better at the game, keep my head on straight, and stay on track.

I like the way Kevin Durant plays. He shoots real well and can definitely handle a ball, and he plays pretty good defense. He can guard a guard no matter how big and he can rebound.