Duke's Kelly ready for Lakers training camp
At long last, Ryan Kelly’s foot is sound enough to resume his basketball career.
The former Duke player, who needed two surgeries over the last two years of his Blue Devils career, was medically cleared by the Los Angeles Lakers team doctors last week.
That decision came just in time. Kelly signed his contract with the Lakers last Friday and will be able to go full speed when the team opens training camp this Saturday in El Segundo, Calif.
“I am ready to go,” Kelly said.
Even though he said he hasn’t had any problems with pain or swelling in the right foot two months, Kelly said the Lakers medical team took a cautious approach before clearing him. He was fine with that.
“With pro sports, your body is truly your career,” Kelly said. “I was told by many a person that has played to make sure you are 100 percent healthy and don’t try to come back. Just take care of your body first. You have to be physically sound at that level.”
Kelly wasn’t able to participate with the Lakers summer league team. He said he’s been able to wear normal basketball shoes the entire summer, but he couldn’t do any running or jumping.
Instead, to keep his skills sharp, he went through drills involving form shooting, spot shooting and stationary ball handling.
“I think that will have a good effect on me going forward,” Kelly said. “Sometimes it’s a blessing to step back and work on those little things.”
Kelly’s most recent operation was last April. He missed 13 games with Duke last season after he broke the fifth metatarsal bone on his right foot during a game with Clemson on Jan. 8 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
He returned for a March 2 game with Miami that was one of the most memorable in Cameron Indoor Stadium’s history. Kelly hit 7 of 9 3-pointers, scoring 36 points as Duke beat the Hurricanes 79-76.
He played the remainder of the season, helping Duke reach the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight, before undergoing surgery.
Though that injury prevented him from participating pre-draft workouts for NBA scouts, Kelly was selected by the Lakers in the second round of the June draft.
A 6-foot-11 forward from Raleigh, Kelly hit 37.9 percent of his 3-pointers during his Duke career. That includes 42.2 percent during his senior season.
He averaged 12.9 points per game as a senior.
This Saturday, he’ll join his Lakers teammates for the first training camp practice healthy and ready to prove he can compete in the NBA.
“I certainly believe I’m able to play at that level,” Kelly said, “and Lakers believe so, too.”