By Zach Zaborny
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
If an individual is 6 feet 8 inches tall, it’s safe to assume that someone of that stature can get a pretty good view of the world. For Kansas State junior forward Curtis Kelly, his view of the world often takes place on the basketball court.
When Kelly, born and raised in Bronx, N.Y., stepped onto the basketball court at K-State, it wasn’t his first time on a college court; but it was his first time on one in the state of Kansas.
Unlike his teammates, Kelly didn’t start his college playing days in Manhattan, KS. Instead he started them at the University of Connecticut, also known as UCONN.
Ever since he was young, Kelly said he has always enjoyed the game of basketball. It’s something that has run in his family all the way back to his grandparents.
“My grandmother played surprisingly, and my grandfather did too,” Kelly said.
“My uncle definitely played. He played college basketball, and he played for the Harlem Globetrotters for a little while and he also played overseas.”
By coming from an extended basketball family, it’s not hard to see Kelly playing the game for a good portion of his life, which is exactly what he’s been doing since he was 12 years old.
“I started off young,” Kelly said. “Some people start off younger than that but I started off pretty young I would say, and I’ve loved the game since then.”
During his senior year at Rice High School in New York City, Kelly led his team to a 19-7 overall record, winning both a city title for his school and the New York State Catholic high school championship.
After his senior season was over, Kelly went onto earn many post-season honors including the New York Post and New York Daily News player of the year.
Out of high school, Kelly received scholarship offers from several schools, including Texas and North Carolina, but ultimately decided to go to UCONN.
After spending two years at UCONN, Kelly left the school and decided to transfer.
Ultimately, Kelly came to Manhattan, KS to play under head coach Frank Martin, who had good things to say about the big man from the Bronx.
“Coupled with a tremendous mind for the game, he really understands how to play,” Martin said.
When Kelly arrived in Manhattan prior to the start of the 2008 season, he enrolled in classes, but according to NCAA transfer rules, was required to sit out for one season before he could begin playing.
The one season of waiting allowed him to carefully watch the 2008 basketball team and see where he could fit in with the team the following season.
“I just realized that they needed a lot of inside scoring and an inside presence and I’m going to try and provide that. I thought that was a great team last year,” Kelly said. “They played hard every game so I’m trying to pick a little bit of that up and trying to do the best that I can.”
That season it also provided the opportunity for Martin to help him hone his skills and improve as a player.
“The players that transfer, what they have to do, or what I challenge them to do, is that their practices are their games. They have to approach practice everyday with the enthusiasm that that is your game,” Martin said. “It’s understanding that even if they don’t get to play games that year, they still have a tremendous opportunity and set the tone so I can understand them as a player better. So, when we complete that year, I can better prepare them for the upcoming season.”
While a large amount of his time is spent on a court, he enjoys doing other things off of it.
“I like to just play video games and just chill and relax,” Kelly said. “I don’t really do too much out here. I’m basically more of a chill person these days.”
Martin said he admires Kelly’s relaxed and easygoing attitude.
“He’s a heck of a teammate, always talking, always trying to keep people’s spirits up,” Martin said.
As the 2009 season has almost finished it’s second month, the world continues to spin, and in Kelly’s world, it could be said that his is still spinning just like the basketball that one day he picked up and hasn’t yet put down.
“Ever since I touched a basketball I’ve loved the game.”