Shooter from Shaw
YSU lands grad transfer sharpshooter from Div. II
Tammie Kelley looked on from the sidelines, leaning from her coaching spot in front of the team bench toward the action on the floor.
She saw her son, Greyson, on the AAU court in front of her playing for the FAB5 team.
Shots started to go in for the younger Kelley.
His focus in his younger days was concentrated near the basket or the foul line. Shooting 3s was allowed if the shooting form remained the same as on other parts of the floor.
“The kids that shoot 3s are shooting too low and they’re just throwing it up,” said Tammie (Shemancik) Kelley, who played for Sharpsville (Pa.) High School, which advanced to the Class AA title game in 1981 — her junior year. “They can’t make foul shots because their form is messed up.”
She played every chance she got in western Pennsylvania and even with guys in pickup games when she attended Slippery Rock University. Her basketball career ended with an ACL tear her senior year at Sharpsville. Tammie was a basketball junkie, passing her knowledge of the game to her children.
Greyson and his sister Kendall would be jumping rope at an outdoor court, alternating while the other one shot baskets. They both shot when they were tired, increasing their concentration.
Tammie can recall when Greyson was 19 of 19 from the foul line, while Kendall made 11 straight free throws to help her team win a championship in middle school.
“When I was coaching I always told all my kids that everybody will win and lose the game by either foul shots or layups,” Tammie said. “Quit worrying about 3s all the time and make sure you can make your layups consistently and your foul shots consistently.”
She said Greyson puts up shots for about four hours each day, still having access to gyms and weight rooms throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You have to play how you practice,” Tammie said. “You have to go in and not only shoot, but concentrate on makes. It’s the same with foul shots. You can shoot 100 foul shots, but if you’re shooting them crummy and only making 50, then that’s not helping. You have to go and make at least 100.”
Shooting 3-pointers eventually became part of Greyson’s portfolio as he became a standout at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, last season averaging 19.2 points, shooting 47.3 percent from the floor, 43.4 from 3-point range and 91.8 percent from the foul line.
It was one of the many reasons Youngstown State selected the 6-foot-2 graduate transfer guard from Raleigh. Kelley graduates with a business management degree with a minor in recreation management from Shaw, an NCAA Division II school.
“It was always his dream to play Division I basketball,” said YSU coach Jerrod Calhoun, whose team was 18-15 last season. “We’re getting a young man that’s starving to play Division I basketball. He’s got one year with us to live out his dream.
“It’s one of the first grad transfers I’ve had. I’m kind of excited about it. He’s a really smart basketball player that has great numbers coming from the D-II level, which is a level I really respect. You’re getting a guy that wants to be in Youngstown. I think that’s so important in such a big piece to the puzzle.
“He realizes we have four starters back. We’re coming off a good season. He wanted to go to a place that would put him in a really good position to set up the rest of his coaching career and help us achieve what we want to achieve.”
Kelley talked to the YSU coaching staff for a week and half before committing. He said the coaches were direct on what his role would be with the Penguins.
“It was to me a perfect fit and perfect opportunity from playing time to loving the coaching staff and to win — that was a big thing for me,” he said.
Kelley joins William Dunn (6-8 forward from Quincy, Mich.); Myles Hunter (6-5 guard from Charlotte, N.C.), Shemar Rathan-Mayes (5-11 guard from Toronto, Ontario); Cheick (pronounced SHAKE) Traore (6-8 forward from Concord, N.C.) and Alex Vargo (6-6 guard from Wheeling, W. Va.) in this year’s recruiting class.
Those six recruits join other scholarship players in seniors Jamir Thomas (6-8 forward), Naz Bohannon (6-6 forward), Michael Akuchie (6-8 forward), Christian Bentley (6-3 guard), and Garrett Covington (6-5 guard); junior Darius Quisenberry (6-1 guard); and sophomore Daniel Ogoro (6-5 guard).
Juniors Justin Bofenkamp (6-0 guard) and Geoff Hamperian (6-4 guard), along with sophomore Kenny Ganley Jr. (6-4 guard) and freshman Carson Ryan (6-6 guard), are the non-scholarship players.
Devin Morgan and Donel Cathcart III graduated, while Tyler Foster, Jelani Simmons and Olamide Pedersen entered the transfer portal.
Kelley wants to show he fits into the YSU system.
“I really just want to show it because I’m very big on work ethic, and I really want to make these guys even work really harder to play at the next level,” he said. “I can make shots — playing hard, making shots and being a high IQ player. I’m hoping that I can propel these guys over the little hump they’re at, you know, instead of 18 wins is 20-plus wins and number one in the Horizon (League).”
It’s not the first time Kelley has been around Youngstown with Tammie being a Sharpsville graduate. They also have friends in the Mahoning Valley.
“He has that up north kind of work ethic and attitude,” she said. “He appreciates everything he’s got. He really works hard for it, especially in basketball.”
Calhoun said Greyson wants to coach. Playing for the Penguins will help with the process.
“I always tell our guys you never know who’s watching from the stands,” Calhoun said. “The basketball world is a very small community. We all know each other. Just doing my homework on him, he’s an absolute gym rat, just loves the game — eats, sleeps and drinks basketball. We can’t wait until we get a chance to work with him, get him around our players.
“I think he’s a high-level scorer. I think he can make shots. He can get to the rim. He can play off a pick-and-roll. He can play off of some of our guards really, really well with his ability to stretch the defense. If you look at his shooting percentage and numbers, it was very, very impressive. We knew quite a few of the coaches that played against him, approached him. They all had high praise for him.”
Kelley said he’s loved watching basketball since he was little, surrounded by a basketball family.
“I’ve known basketball is exactly what I want to do for my entire life since I was little,” he said. “I love teaching the game, learning the game and doing anything with basketball.”