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Bob Dixon

Agency Manager


Middlesboro, KY 40965


Go Big Blue!

JAMIE H. VAUGHT: Sharp-Shooting Kellan Grady Making Big Impact for Wildcats

If your college basketball team is planning to be a major player in the March Madness sweepstakes, it better have some valuable experience. Look at the recent Final Fours where experienced teams like Baylor, Virginia, Villanova and North Carolina had upperclassmen, helping their schools capture a national title.

Kellan Grady (SEC Media Photo)

Well, at No. 5 Kentucky, as we already know, coach John Calipari now has the experienced standouts – four juniors and two graduate transfers among the top seven as far as playing time -- along with freshman superstar TyTy Washington Jr. to make a significant run in March. Coaches Bruce Pearl of Auburn and Bill Self of Kansas have said the Wildcats could win it all.

We all know about 6-foot-9 Oscar Tshiebwe, a serious candidate for the national player of the year honors. We all know about the respected point guards like All-SEC candidates Washington Jr. and Sahvir Wheeler. We all know about 6-foot-7 Keion Brooks Jr. and his magnificent performance at Kansas. We all know about the smooth downtown jumpers by “old men” and graduate transfers Davion Mintz and Kellan Grady.

And it’s Grady who has made a huge impact with UK’s perimeter shooting this winter. He arrived in Lexington from Davidson where he had an outstanding four-year career, starting nearly every game, scoring over 2,000 career points and earning all-conference honors four times. He also played against tough competition, facing nonconference foes like North Carolina, Auburn, Texas, Purdue, Vanderbilt, among others.

The 6-foot-5, 205-pound Grady, now 24, has been deadly, hitting long bombers from everywhere on the hardwood floor. Going into this week’s action, Grady is first in the SEC in 3-point field goal shooting with 43.9 percent, hitting 61 of 139 three-pointers. Overall, he is averaging 12 points, which is third-best on the team.

In the last 12 games, Grady, who is on the Jerry West Award preseason watch list as the nation’s top shooting guard, is averaging 14.4 points per game while shooting 48.3 percent from the field, including 45.7 percent from the three-point range. The Boston native scored his season-high 23 points against Western Kentucky and High Point, both in late December, with a two-game total of 13 three-pointers.

As you’ll recall, it was Grady, who was a Top 70 prospect in high school, who saved UK from an upset loss in last week’s overtime win over Mississippi State at Rupp Arena. He pumped in eight points in the extra period, including two straight 3-pointers, in leading the Wildcats to an 82-74 victory, finishing with 18 points.

Grady said it was a great feeling to hit the critical shots in a close matchup.

"It's a rewarding feeling,” said Grady, who is working on an undergraduate certificate in business and economics after getting his degree in sociology at Davidson. “We either went at me for a shot or for a scoring opportunity or we went at me to then post Oscar [Tshiebwe]. So just knowing that Coach Cal, the staff, and our team trusts me to be in those situations, whether it's a passer or a shot maker, gives you a little added confidence before you let it go.”

Said Calipari, “I told him after he missed four wide-open shots, ‘You’d better keep shooting it,’ because he passed one up. I’ve got a lot of confidence in him. He has shown that he can miss some shots, and come back and make shots.”

Grady prefers a big city life but he is also enjoying the Lexington culture as well as the fans from the Big Blue Nation.

“I am a city boy. It is not quite like Boston, my hometown, but it's unique in its own way,” said Grady last fall. “I have enjoyed Lexington so far. I think when you decide to do a grad transfer here, there are definitely some positive elements in terms of going to a similar environment as to where you were before. Coming from an affluent small town suburb, like Davidson, to transferring and being in a relatively decent-sized city and just having that experience on an everyday basis, I think it's correlated or something like that. So, I'm glad to be a part of that.”

Currently at the age of 24, Grady also loves his new role as the old man on the team. (By the way, for comparison sake, former UK standout Cliff Barker was 27 during the Fabulous Five years.)

I have been 'granddad' since June, and I embrace it,” said Grady. “There's a part of me that's an old soul, even among 24-year-olds, 23-year-olds, my friends from back home, and my friends that I graduated with at Davidson. In fact, they used to call me a dad because they were my age. But at any rate, it's all good fun."

If the Wildcats stay healthy with Grady’s scoring and Oscar’s rebounding machines humming along nicely, we can look for Kentucky to gun for its first Final Four appearance since 2015.

Jamie H. Vaught, a longtime sports columnist in Kentucky, is the author of five books about UK basketball, including recently-published “Chasing the Cats: A Kentucky Basketball Journey.” He is the editor and founder of Magazine, and a professor at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Middlesboro. You can follow him on Twitter @KySportsStyle or reach him via email at


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