Jerrel Kelly remembers going to a basketball camp at Queens University in Charlotte when he was either a freshman or sophomore at Laurence Manning Academy. And Queens head coach Bart Lundy remembered Kelly a few years later.
And that is why Kelly …
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And that is why Kelly will play his final two years of college basketball at the NCAA Division II school, having recently signed with the Royals after two years of junior college basketball.
He (Lundy) came to one of my practices (at Panola College in Carthage, Texas)," the 6-foot-8-inch Kelly said. "When I went to the camp, he said he would like for me to play for him. He talked to me and said the offer is still on the table if you want to come back home. I took it into consideration."
Kelly said he had offers from NCAA Division I schools South Carolina State, Alabama State and Akron along with DII Francis Marion.
"Honestly that doesn't matter to me," Kelly said of his decision to play at the DII level. "As a basketball player, it doesn't matter if you're at DI, DII or DIII. If you can play, you'll get notice and you'll get exposures."
Kelly averaged 4.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game while playing in 28 games for 19-12 Panola. He ended up at Panola after playing his freshman season at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, Florida. He averaged 6.1 points and 4.8 rebounds.
Kelly was released from Gulf State and ended up at Panola when its head coach came to Sumter last summer to watch him practice after he was released.
Queens is a member of the South Atlantic Conference and has had a strong program the past several years. The Royals went 24-7 this past season and earned a berth in the DII tournament for the fifth straight season before it was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Queens had posted three straight 30-win seasons before this season. That is a reason why he chose the Charlotte school.
"They win," Kelly said. "Everyone wants to be part of a winning team. The coaches are great. I just wanted to make sure I was getting the right fit, to be involved in something better than just going to school."
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