Georgia Tech commit Miles Kelly emerges into 4-star prospect

In March, Miles Kelly’s basketball prowess had yielded one scholarship offer, to Charleston Southern. Then a junior guard at Parkview High, he was getting attention from a handful of power-conference schools, but was not rated by scouting services such as 247 Sports or Rivals. He was decidedly under the radar.

Friday, Kelly made public his commitment to Georgia Tech and coach Josh Pastner. He picked the Yellow Jackets over offers from N.C. State, Miami, Texas A&M and Wake Forest, among others. By the measurement of 247Sports Composite, the 6-foot-5 Kelly is a four-star prospect, the No. 112 player and No. 8 combo guard in the class. Among Pastner’s high school signees, only guard Michael Devoe was rated higher. It’s been quite a few months.

Emory Walton, Kelly’s AAU coach, happily provides testimony to Kelly’s work in that span of time. He knows every coach touts his or her player’s commitment, “but I don’t know if there was a player in American that worked as hard from the day that they said that there was a quarantine,” he said. “If somebody worked harder, I want to see it.”

Kelly became Pastner’s first commitment for the 2021 signing class, one whose recruitment has been complicated by the NCAA’s continued ban on in-person recruiting due to the coronavirus pandemic. It means that prospects can’t visit coaches on campus or attend practices or games and coaches can’t evaluate recruits on-site or meet with them anywhere. Pastner was fortunate that Kelly was a local prospect who had been to Tech’s campus for a game and also a camp in the summer of 2019.

“It was close to home,” Kelly said. “I can stay close to my family and, on top of that, my relationship with the coaching staff and Josh Pastner, that’s what really made my decision.”

Without being able to see Kelly in person, Pastner, like college coaches nationwide, had to rely on watching AAU tournaments that were streamed online and talk with prospects by phone or videoconference. It was in those events over the summer that Kelly showcased his scoring ability and drive.

According to Kelly, Pastner told him that what he appreciated about his game was that “I’ll do anything to win. I’ll go get a rebound if I need it. I’ll go get a bucket if we need it. I’ll get a game-winning assist if we need it.”

At Parkview, Kelly averaged 19.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.0 steals, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post. He was named second-team all-county, which also included Tech freshman defensive end Jared Ivey, a North Gwinnett High grad. While an accomplishment, it’s not where one would expect to find a power conference recruit (although, actually, another second-teamer was Clemson commit Ian Schieffelin of Grayson High). That helped motivate Kelly going into the quarantine.

“I was determined to show people that I was a different player from when they last saw me,” Kelly said. “You could say I was like an NBA player trying to get ready for the bubble, trying to get prepared and get stuff done.”

Brookwood High coach Daniel Bowles, who coached Tech guard Bubba Parham in high school, was keenly aware of the guard at the Broncos' archrival from the time he was a sophomore. When Kelly had moved up to the Parkview varsity, Bowles said, the Brookwood JV coach told him that “this kid is a 6-4 Bubba Parham,” meaning that he was a crafty scorer with prolific range.

“From that time on, we were like, ‘This kid can play,’” Bowles said.

Bowles said Kelly improved each time the Broncos and Panthers met, a testament to his commitment to developing his game. In that way, Bowles said that he is like another Gwinnett product whose recruitment was also relatively light, one whom Tech fans know well – Josh Okogie.

“Knowing Josh, he just worked so hard, you knew he was going to be successful,” Bowles said. “To me, Miles is kind of like that.”

After the quarantine, Walton said he gave his ATL Hoops players a workout plan and challenged Kelly to do more.

“If you do all the things I tell you, the world is going to change for you,” Walton said he told Kelly.

The program included making 1,000 3-pointers, 350 pushups and running five miles daily, Walton said. Until gyms opened, he shot on a goal in his backyard or at Lucky Shoals Park in Norcross, Kelly said. Kelly was also working with a strength and conditioning coach and added eight pounds, to get to 175.

“He worked basketball like a job for the past three or four months,” Walton said.

Such devotion isn’t unusual, Kelly’s mother Sheila said. She saw it in the fifth grade, for instance, when his late father Melvin Kelly, cleared him to focus on only one sport and Miles chose basketball.

“He dove in headfirst,” Sheila Kelly said.

Once the AAU tournaments began this summer, Kelly took advantage of his opportunity, the offers began to pile up and his recruiting ranking rose simultaneously. Playing in a gym helped.

“I was (training) at the park in the heat,” he said. “By the time I started playing games and got in the gym, it was just easy.”

Tech made its offer in August, leading to his commitment last week. He plans to sign in the early signing period in November. He is spending his final high-school year at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia, he said, to help him acclimate to college. It’s a major change, more evidence of his eagerness to go all in.

“When he puts his mind to something, he gets it done,” Sheila Kelly said. “He goes above and beyond.”