AMERICUS - A four-year NCAA Division I football career at Duke University was nice, but Austin Kelly has one year of basketball eligibility left, and he's going to use it. Georgia Southwestern head men's basketball coach Mike Leeder announced today that Kelly will play for the Hurricanes in 2012-13.
The Mableton native is a year removed from a very successful career on the gridiron for the Blue Devils. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound wide receiver finished with 129 receptions (which ranks 11th all-time in Duke football history) for 1439 yards in 46 games. He recorded nine touchdowns.
In his senior year, Kelly grabbed 47 receptions (which ranked 8th in the Atlantic Coast Conference) for 486 yards and four touchdowns. He played in 11 of 12 games and united with Donovan Varner and Conner Vernon to form the most prolific trio in Duke history with 180 combined catches.
Kelly, Varner and Vernon became the first trio in school history to each have over 600 receiving yards in a single season in 2009.
Kelly played in all 12 games with three starts as a true freshman and recorded his first collegiate catch (a 16-yard grab) at Virginia on Sept. 8, 2007.
NCAA student-athletes have 10 semesters of athletic eligibility. Since Kelly did not redshirt or sit out a year, he finished his football career in eight semesters which allows to him to play any sport but football over his final two semesters of eligibility.
"I think Austin has a chance to have an immediate impact on our program this season," Leeder said. "He is a tremendous competitor that should impact the game at both ends of the floor."
A four-year basketball starter at South Cobb High School, Kelly averaged 15.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game as a senior to earn All-Region honors. He scored 24 points in a Georgia state tournament game against current Philadelphia 76er Louis Williams.
"Austin will be able to play both guard spots for us," Leeder said, "and I think his big game experience in football will translate well to the basketball floor."
Kelly holds an undergraduate degree in sociology from Duke. He will be a graduate student at GSW this fall.
Photo by Duke University Athletics