Ex-Duke, UNC stars take leisurely moment to reflect
Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry were on crutches. Mason Plumlee had just visited his younger brother, Marshall Plumlee, who had surgery earlier on Tuesday. And Josh Hairston will soon have an operation on his thumb.
Duke’s locker room may have resembled an infirmary at times this past season, though it didn’t stop the Blue Devils from winning 30 games and reaching the elite eight, when it lost to eventual champion Louisville.
“When you look back on it, we did some amazing things,” Kelly said. “Not many teams could overcome what we had to overcome.”
Kelly, Curry and Mason Plumlee were at The Ravenscroft School in Raleigh Tuesday night for the 35th annual ACC Barnstorming Tour.
Kelly, who missed 13 games with a broken bone in his foot, decided to delay his surgery until after the season. He came back in March and played the final eight games, but now he must spend the next 10-12 weeks rehabbing instead of working out for NBA teams.
“I didn’t want to leave my teammates or my career out to dry, and I certainly don’t regret that and I’m very proud of that decision,” Kelly said.
“Being able to work out would be a good thing, but at the same time I’ve had four years of playing basketball at Duke, and they’ve certainly had a lot of opportunities to see my play and quite a lot of film on me, so I think that speaks for itself.”
Curry, who wasn’t able to practice for most of the season because of a shin injury, will also be rehabbing for the next two months after the senior had surgery last week.
“To look back and see everything we had to go through as a team, to win 30 games and things like that, I’m proud of what we did,” Curry said.
Marshall Plumlee played only 50 minutes this season, and Mason said his brother had trouble getting in shape or getting in rhythm because of a foot injury.
“All things considered, to get to an elite eight ... it was the most unique season I’ve ever been a part of,” Mason said.
Tuesday night, the senior Plumlee played on a team that included North Carolina’s Dexter Strickland, N.C. State’s Scott Wood and Wake Forest’s C.J. Harris against a team comprised of former varsity players from Ravenscroft, Kelly’s alma mater.
After working out for scouts and general managers at the Portsmouth Invitational, Strickland said he will pick an agent on Friday, and he’s waiting to hear if he’ll be invited to the NBA combine in Chicago.
In the meantime, he was able to enjoy playing with former rivals in a relaxed setting.
“North Carolina and Duke, they always look at us like Bloods and Crips. But we’re actually friends,” Strickland said. “Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee – all those guys are real good friends of mine.”
Kelly and Curry watched from the bench along with UNC’s Reggie Bullock, N.C. State’s T.J. Warren and Duke’s Alex Murphy.
Bullock, a junior, announced last week that he was going pro.
“I was just ready to move on, try to take my game to the next level. Try to play against the best,” Bullock said. “I just went with my gut feeling, and that’s what it led me to do.”
UNC was also represented by Phil Ford, while Nolan Smith came to support the Duke contingent.
Smith is now a free agent after Portland declined to pick up his option. After averaging 3.3 points and 1.2 assists in 9.9 minutes during his first two years with the Trail Blazers, the 2011 ACC player of the year is eager to play somewhere new.
“It’s exciting just to find out where I’m going to be,” Smith said. “Some people would be nervous and not sure if they’ll end up on a team, but I’m excited. I’m confident that I’ll end up in a great situation that will allow me to be myself and play my game.”
NOTES — Duke manager Sean Kelly, Ryan Kelly’s younger brother, won the 3-point shooting contest over Wood, who had the highest 3-point percentage in the ACC this season. Kelly and Wood both made 9 of 10 from behind the arc. Then the contest moved to 35-foot shots, and Kelly made this third attempt before Wood missed. … Elizabeth City’s Angelo Sharpless won the dunk contest when he leaped over Plumlee en route to the slam.