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Kellan Grady talks commitment to UK, John Calipari, and more

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“I think it’s a privilege and an honor really to play in an environment like Kentucky and be supported by Big Blue Nation and such an ecstatic fan base.”

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 08 Davidson at Rhode Island Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Wildcats made a major splash with the transfer portal this week when Kellan Grady announced he would rock Kentucky blue next season.

On Wednesday, Grady had his first official meeting with Kentucky media to discuss his decision to play his final year of college hoops in Lexington, what went into the process, John Calipari’s pitch, and why the Davidson transfer feels this was the best place for him.

Here is a recap of what Grady had to say via UK Athletics.

On his experience at Davidson and how it will help him at Kentucky …

“It was a memorable four years for me filled with some adversity and a lot of joyful moments. As a freshman, I was fortunate enough to play a lot of minutes. We won an Atlantic 10 championship to secure an NCAA Tournament bid which was kind of an amazing welcome to college experience for me. Then we’ve been competitive the last three years. We’ve had winning seasons. It’s been a complete joy to play for Coach (Bob) McKillop and to compete with my teammates, many of whom are going to be lifelong friends of mine. I’ve enjoyed the everyday campus life and just being at Davidson, so it’s been an absolutely enjoyable four years. I couldn’t be more grateful for having gone to Davidson. And as far as preparing me for Kentucky, I’ve been coached by one of the best coaches in college basketball, a Hall of Fame nominee (Bob McKillop) who has got over 600 career wins and made it all the way to the Elite Eight a couple – what was it – 13 years ago, now. He pushed me every day. I know what it’s like to be pushed and playing in a competitive environment. I think that will ultimately prepare me for my next step in my college career at Kentucky.”

On his memories of playing Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament in 2018 …

“Yeah, I did not envision that I would be able to play for Kentucky four years later, but that was an awesome experience. It was a humbling experience as a freshman. I think I shot like 4 for 15 that game. I think I was able to get around my point average but I struggled from the field a little bit. We didn’t quite have that exposure, that length, that athleticism in the Atlantic 10. But I think in the second half, I settled in a little more and we as a team were pretty competitive. We almost came away with an upset victory. But it was just an amazing experience to be able to play in the tournament like every kid dreams of in Boise (Idaho) in front of 15,000 fans. We were excited for the challenge. Obviously, we thought we had a chance of winning it. We thought we had a pretty good scouting report prepared for everything that they were doing at that time. It was a great experience, and now I’m looking forward to being able to play for Kentucky and not lose to Kentucky.”

On what drew him to Kentucky …

“Well, multiple factors, but most notably its competitive environment. Coach (John) Calipari’s track record of really developing players and giving them a really, really good shot at them becoming NBA players. Putting his players in positions to be put in next-level type scenarios on the court. It’s a very contemporary, pro-style offense. From what I’ve heard and from what I’ve gathered from other people who have gone through the Kentucky experience, Coach Cal really fights for you and advocates for you for those at the next level. It’s an opportunity to be on a really good team, competitively nationally and play at the biggest stage, which is something that I need at this time. I’m excited to be able to play in front of over 20,000 fans hopefully if this pandemic is in order by then. It’s just an overall great opportunity at the biggest stage that will challenge me to compete against the highest level of college basketball on a daily basis, and I think that’s what I need right now.”

On how the passion of Big Blue Nation affected his decision to play at Kentucky …

“For me it’s exciting. I think it’s a privilege and an honor really to play in an environment like Kentucky and be supported by Big Blue Nation and such an ecstatic fan base. I think with that much excitement and passion for a team, I’m sure it can potentially get overwhelming at times for people, but I think that’s part of a man’s decision and really stepping into a big stage like that. So, I’m excited about it overall and I know Kentucky’s fan base is loyal and passionate. I think that’s important for a college athlete.”

On if he has talked to past transfers like Davion Mintz, Reid Travis or Nate Sestina who have made similar decisions to see what it is like and who the most instrumental people were to him in making the decision …

“I haven’t talked to any of those players, although my dad actually went to Bucknell for a couple of years before he went to American so he has a couple of friends that knew Nate Sestina’s experience and said that he enjoyed it. My father was instrumental, my high school coach, and the former director of my AAU program and my AAU coach. I took a lot of conversations and I was trying to be sure I approached this decision with due diligence and detail. I’m confident wholeheartedly that I made the right decision.”

On what it is he likes about former Davidson star Steph Curry …

“Steph’s been kind of a role model for me and my favorite player since I was watching him when he was at Davidson going through the NCAA Tournament. I had the privilege to actually work out with Steph a couple times when I was at his camp a few summers ago. Beyond his amazing abilities on the court, seeing the way he is dedicated to the game and how he works is something that has inspired me to work with detail and with precision when I’m trying to work on my game. His shooting ability, his confidence is something I think that is arguably the best in the NBA. His ability to score at all three levels and to make floaters, to make shots in the midrange, his in-between game, his court vision. I think we all know I can keep going. More with Steph what I pay attention to are the little things: how he comes off screens, how he moves without the ball. Those are things that I did a lot at Davidson that I think I was able to improve on by watching film and studying guys like Steph. It’s been awesome watching his success at the NBA.”

On the reception to his CARE program and what his visions are for that as he transitions to Kentucky …

“As far as on Davidson, I was delighted to see the way campus reacted to it. A lot of students on various teams were supportive of me, trying find ways to do something like-minded or similar. People from back home in Boston were incredibly supportive too. So, the reception overall has been good and I’ve been fortunate that people have supported me. Although I haven’t really nailed down the nuts and bolts of what’s next in terms of how I’m going to utilize CARE at Kentucky, it’s a larger platform that I think benefits when the whole point is to try to have an impact on the younger generation and kids that look up to athletes. I’ve said it countless times that I really looked up to college athletes when I was a kid. Social justice and racial equality are real imperative issues, so I think to hear insight and hear college athletes reach out to kids on the basic concept of equality I think can hit home with kids in sixth, seventh, fourth, fifth grade. So, I look forward to the next steps once we kind of narrow them down.”

On how important the summer will be to get acclimated to the new environment …

“I think it will be vital. As you just said, being able to get acclimated to the campus, to a new level of workouts, a different type of competitive environment, the more preparation and the more time we have to get used to each other and to improve I think will only behoove us to become better for the season once the season comes around. I’m excited that hopefully we’ll be able to get together in the summer and work together. I think it will be very important.”

On if he knows any of the current Kentucky players …

“I do not personally, no. I look forward being able to meet with them and compete with them though.”

On when he knew Kentucky was for him and what sold him on that …

“I’m not sure I can pinpoint a certain moment. Kentucky was my, I think, No. 1 choice invariably throughout the process, but when he (Calipari) and I watched film over Zoom and he showed me a lot of actions where he envisioned me excelling in and past actions, it’s just his emphasis on making plays and playing with freedom and his belief in me that I can be an NBA player that he can truly help me get there was very convincing for me and that meant a lot. And it was very easy for me to tell how genuine he was and how much he cares about his players. He instills confidence in his players, and to me that is incredibly important. It was a combination of great factors that led to my decision.”