Duke’s Kelly has surgery on right foot
Ryan Kelly’s right foot healed enough for him to return for Duke’s run deep into the NCAA Tournament.
It hadn’t healed enough, though, for him to pursue an NBA career without further, invasive treatment.
So Kelly had surgery on the foot Tuesday at Duke’s Ambulatory Surgery Center and is expected to be sidelined for three months.
It’s the second surgery Kelly, a 6-11 senior forward, has had on the foot since March 2012.
“Ryan has been a terrific member of the Duke program throughout his career and has a bright professional future,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He showed amazing courage playing during the last part of our season leading us to the Elite Eight.
“With this surgery, Ryan is expected to return to 100 percent and pursue his dream of playing in the NBA.”
Kelly missed the 2012 ACC and NCAA tournaments after injuring the foot during a practice session. He had surgery to fix that injury shortly after Duke’s 75-70 NCAA Tournament loss to Lehigh.
This season, Kelly started Duke’s first 15 games — all wins by the Blue Devils — before he suffered an injury to the foot during the first half of a 68-40 win over Clemson on Jan. 8 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
At the time, a surgical option was presented that likely would have ended his Duke career.
Instead, Kelly opted to rehabilitate the injury through rest while staying in shape through low-impact activities such as running on an underwater treadmill.
He sat out the next 13 games before a triumphant return on March 2. That day, at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Kelly hit 7 of 9 shots from 3-point range to score 36 points as Duke beat Miami 79-76.
He followed with an 18-point game three nights later when the Blue Devils posted an 85-57 win over Virginia Tech on Senior Night.
Kelly and Krzyzewski said publicly throughout the rest of the season that any soreness Kelly felt was from getting back into shape, not in his injured foot.
But the option of needing another surgery remained a possibility.
Even as Duke won three NCAA Tournament games to reach the Midwest Regional final on March 31, Kelly’s shooting effectiveness dropped dramatically.
A 52 percent 3-point shooter before his January injury, Kelly made just 18 of 48 shots overall, including 1 of 19 on 3-pointers, over Duke’s final six games.
The Blue Devils’ season ended with an 85-63 loss to eventual national champion Louisville in Indianapolis on March 31.After that game, Kelly continued Duke’s policy of not fully disclosing the nature of his injury. But he did say he “was hurt pretty good.” Though he didn’t necessarily re-injure the foot during his eight-game March comeback, Kelly agreed to have surgery now that his Duke career is complete.
Kelly's parents, Doreen and Chris Kelly of Raleigh, said via email Tuesday night that they were grateful for the work Duke's medical staff provided their son.
"We are enormously proud of Ryan's career as a student-athlete at Duke University," the Kellys said. "We want to thank Coach K, the entire staff, Dr. James Nunley, Jose Fonseca and Nick Potter for making it possible for Ryan to find a way to help his team reach the Elite 8.
"Ryan's decision makes it perfectly clear that he is a team first player and we admire his dedication, courage and loyalty. Now he can focus on his full recovery and look forward to a bright future ahead. We will forever remember the reception Ryan received on his game back versus Miami by the Cameron Crazies...a memory for a lifetime."
Kelly averaged 12.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.6 blocks per game this past season, while shooting 42.2 percent on 3-pointers and 81.2 percent on free throws.
He will miss the major pre-draft workouts while recovering from Tuesday’s surgery. The timetable for his recovery doesn’t appear to allow him to work out for teams before the NBA draft on June 27.