Georgia Tech guard Miles Kelly on precipice of 1,000 career points

Georgia Tech guard Miles Kelly at the 2023 ACC Kickoff in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. (Photo by Nell Redmond/ACC)

Credit: Nell Redmond/ACC

Credit: Nell Redmond/ACC

Georgia Tech guard Miles Kelly at the 2023 ACC Kickoff in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. (Photo by Nell Redmond/ACC)

At some point this week, whether it’s Wednesday against Clemson or Saturday at Miami, Miles Kelly could become the 48th member of Georgia Tech’s 1,000-point club.

A junior from Stone Mountain who starred at Parkview High before finishing his prep career at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia, Kelly has 992 points in 89 career games (11.1 ppg) for the Yellow Jackets going into a 7 p.m. Wednesday showdown with Clemson. Moses Wright (1,130 from 2017-21) was the last Tech player to reach 1,000 points in a Tech career.

“That’s gonna mean a lot. I’ve been working to be at this spot at this point in my career for a very long time,” Kelly said after Tech beat Syracuse at McCamish Pavilion on Saturday. “Even just from coming up playing basketball I’ve always been the underdog, so being able to be in college as a junior to hit your 1,000 points, that’s just a testament to how hard I work, the countless hours in the gym spending time on my game and just trying to get better for me personally. That’s huge, though. That’s gonna be huge for sure.”

Kelly committed to play for Tech and former coach Josh Pastner in September 2020. He eventually became a four-star recruit and signed with Tech over scholarship offers from Miami, Texas A&M and Wake Forest, among many others.

The 6-foot-6, 180-pound guard was scoreless in four minutes of action in his college debut against Miami (Ohio) on Nov. 9, 2021. His first game scoring double figures came Feb. 5, 2022, when he finished with 10 against Clemson.

Kelly became Tech’s main offensive weapon in 2022-23 by averaging 14.4 points per game and 14.8 points per game in ACC contests. He scored double figures 25 times, scored at least 20 points seven times and dropped 30 in a win at Syracuse Feb. 28.

Kelly’s play allowed him to test NBA waters over the summer before he opted to return to Tech for a third season and to play for first-year coach Damon Stoudamire. Kelly has reached double figures 22 times in 26 games this season but has also gone scoreless twice. After one of those goose eggs, however, Kelly poured in 36 in a loss at Louisville on Feb. 10.

“I’ve tried to teach him how to play the right way. With playing the right way sometimes that might mean not forcing,” Tech coach Damon Stoudamire said Feb. 14 after Tech lost at Notre Dame. “Sometimes I think we get enamored with scoring buckets and different things and at the end of the day, man, you gotta learn how to play the game. I think that he’s done a really good job of buying into that.

“I think whatever happens to him when he leaves Georgia Tech he’s gonna be better for it. Because when he leaves here, he’s gonna have to know how to play with other players that are really good. It won’t always be like this for him. I think that’s what he’s learning, he’s processing. It’s every day evolving for him.”

With five games remaining in the regular season, and with one guaranteed ACC tournament game, Kelly is on pace to finish his career with 1,080 points which would tie him for 41st on Tech’s all-time scoring list.

“The one thing I will always say about Miles is he let me coach him hard,” Stoudamire added. “He does a good job and does everything that’s asked of him.”

Rematch with the Tigers

One of four ACC wins for Tech this season came Jan. 16 at Clemson where the Jackets pulled out a 93-90, double-overtime victory to snap a five-game losing streak at the time. Nait George hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final 12 seconds of regulation and Kyle Sturdivant knocked down a pair of free throws with four seconds to go in the second overtime to ice the win.

Since then, the Tigers have put themselves in the NCAA Tournament discussion with a 17-7 record and 7-7 mark in the ACC. But coming off a 78-77 loss at home to North Carolina State, Clemson can’t afford to drop a road game against one of the league’s bottom-feeders.

“Obviously we’ve got a lot to play for,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said Monday. “We’ve got a good team. We’ve had a couple games get away from us and if you’re a competitive person you got plenty of reasons to be ready to compete.”

Tech is fresh off a 65-60 victory over Syracuse on Saturday and is looking for back-to-back wins for the first time since Dec. 21-22 in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii. The Jackets (11-15, 4-11 ACC) are a game up on Louisville for last place in the league and need to go on a long winning streak to have any hopes of escaping the bottom six of the standings (the league’s six worst teams open ACC tournament play March 12).

The Jackets are three games back in the standings of ninth-place Syracuse and Virginia Tech.

“All I’ve been talking about for them is, ‘What do we wanna do with the rest of the year?’ " Stoudamire said. “I’ve been throwing out numbers and, for me, just understand who I am, I’m a guy that never feels like I’m gonna lose any games. Because that’s just how I am regardless. I’m gonna gameplan to try to put my team in best position I can.

“Call me crazy, but I still look up and down the standings and I’m like, ‘Man, there’s not a lot of separation.’ I’m not saying we’re going to the top of the league, but if we happen to get us a couple games and just going in the right direction going into the conference tournament, I’m excited for what’s to come. You have to get one before you can get two and hopefully we can come back and duplicate what we did (Saturday) evening.”