Rashard Kelly (203-PF-95, college: Wichita St.) is a 26 year old 203cm forward from Fredericksburg Virginia playing his fourth professional season and first with JDA Dijon Bourgogne (France-Betclic ELITE ProA). Last season he played with Gaziantep Basketbol (Turkey-BSL) playing 31 games: averaging 11.9ppg, Reb-4 (8.0rpg), 2.0apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 50.2%, 3PT: 25.9%, FT: 62.7%- Two seasons ago he played with Dolomiti Energia Trento (Italy-Serie A) playing 16 Eurocup games averaging 8.6ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.9apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 53.4%, 3PT: 14.3%, FT: 61.5%; and 20 Italian Serie A games averaging 10.6ppg, 6.1rpg, 2.4apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 51.7%, 3PT: 29.3%, FT: 59.6%. In his rookie season he played with Parma Basket Perm (Russia-VTB) averaging 11.0ppg, Reb-3 (7.7rpg), 1.9apg, FGP: 52.9%, 3PT: 12.5%, FT: 71.6%. He began his basketball career at Chancellor High School and also played at / Bishop O’Connell High School, Massanutten Military Academy and / Hargrave Military Academy. He then played at Wichita State University from 2014-2018 playing a total of 137 NCAA games. He spoke with germanhoops.com before a Basketball Champions League game against the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg.
Thanks Rashard for talking to germanhoops.com. Welcome to Germany. Is this your first time in Germany? What do you know in general about the country and basketball?
Hey I appreciate you having me. This is about my second or third time actually in Germany all the teams I played from this country just plays hard.
Have you had any friends, ex teammates or opponents play here over the years?
Yeah my teammate Zach Brown is in Hamburg at the moment. And my current teammate Khadeen Carrington was playing in Germany as well. Germany is a great spot for basketball , so I’m pretty sure there are more guys I know that has played here as well.
Your playing your fourth professional season and first with JDA Dijon Bourgogne (France-Betclic ELITE ProA). What kind of experience has it been playing in France after having played in Russia, Italy and Turkey? How would you compare the France Pro A in skill level with all the other leagues you have played in?
I’m enjoying it because it’s been a new challenge for me. A different level of competition and skill I have to tap into personal to be better than my opponent. This is a very athletic and hard playing league. While I also think the competition inside the league is better than recent years.
What kind of an experience has it been playing with diminutive guard David Holston? Have you ever played with a guy that has a heart as big as him?
Yeah I’m fortunate enough to play with David Holston. He’s a great leader and person on and off the court. He’s the heart of JDA and The city of Dijon loves him. I played with very well point guards in my career and always tried to learn from them or pick their brain to understand how they see the game.
Could you imagine him playing until he is 40 years old?
Yeah we actually have had this conversation before. I hope he has a great , safe and fun career until he wants to walk away.
You continue to put up very consistent stats as a professional. What has been your secret to being so versatile and consistent in your career?
I work on all aspects of my game daily and throughout the year. Trying to be consistent and limit my weak spots.
In the NCAA you did all the dirty work. How are you a different player now. How has your game grown as a professional player?
I’m emerging more as a threat not just a guy to rebound and defend. Don’t get me wrong that opened doors for me to be to this point. But I always knew there was more to me. I love basketball so I just try to continue to give it my all.
Last season you played with Gaziantep Basketbol (Turkey-BSL) averaging 11.9ppg, Reb-4 (8.0rpg), 2.0apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 50.2%, 3PT: 25.9%, FT: 62.7%. You had a great season. You had super games against the Turkish Euroleague games. Do you feel like Euroleague teams have taken notice of your game?
I think they do. Every year I played a Euroleague team and personal won my matchups from my rookie season in Russia to now , I try to prove I can play on Euroleague and even higher levels of basketball. I just need the right connection and right opportunities.
In 2019-2020 you balled with Dolomiti Energia Trento (Italy-Serie A) averaging 8.6ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.9apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 53.4%, 3PT: 14.3%, FT: 61.5%;in the Eurocup and Serie A averaging 10.6ppg, 6.1rpg, 2.4apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 51.7%, 3PT: 29.3%, FT: 59.6%. You aren’t only an impact player on offense but also on defense. How do you feel has your defensive game grown in the last two seasons?
I’ve gotten used to guarding ball screens. And being more mobile. Understanding the game as a pro. Using film to my advantage to polish my game
In your rookie season you played with Parma Basket Perm (Russia-VTB) averaging 11.0ppg, Reb-3 (7.7rpg), 1.9apg, FGP: 52.9%, 3PT: 12.5%, FT: 71.6%. You lost twice to Euroleague powerhouse team CSKA Moscow, but in the second game played a lot better as a team. What memories do you have playing against so many top players like Kyle Hines?
Before I came to Russia I was told I reminded a lot of guys of Kyle Hines from my size and the intensity I played with. I just try to respect the game and I was also able to talk to Kyle at the all star game and try to pick up little things from a player at his level who I would also like to be at. The same level of respect as a Kyle Hines would be an honor one day
What do you remember being your wake up call to being a rookie in Russia where you knew that you were very far away from home? You lived in deep Russia but was in a big city.
When I first arrived and didn’t have a European adapter for any of my electronics . I knew I was far away from home and had to adjust as soon as possible. My team may have not expected me to play as well as I did because of my college numbers but I kept trusting God every day with these challenges and he helped me prove I was better.
You played at Wichita State from 2014-2018. You reached the NCAA tournament each season. Was the Sweet 16 run in 2015 your most memorable experience?
Yeah my sweet 16 run was pretty awesome or our Junior year run after our NBA guys like Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker left. No one expected us to be any good and we won games by an average of 30. It got so bad they had to switch us conferences my senior year
Was it a big adjustment coming as a big offensive output player at Hargrave Military academy to a guy that only did a dirty work and never averaged double figures in scoring in the NCAA?
Continuing to believe in myself. Adjusting and getting back to my roots. I always noticed I played two different styles of basketball when I was in my college system and when I was free. I enjoyed the freedom better and always was able to produce with it. I didn’t score a lot in college which may of hurt my start to my professional career as far as salary or location. But I will make the best of this journey I’m currently on now .
What memories do you have of teammate Darral Willis. Wouldn’t it be nice to meet him again as Euroleague players?
Machine gun Willis never sees a bad shot. We have had so many talented players on our Wichita State team that year , Connor Francamp who’s at Zenit now , Landry Shamet who’s with the Phoenix Suns , Austin Reaves Los Angelos Lakers , Markis McDuffie another guy who has Euroleague capability. I would love to see all my guys at the euroleague and high level.
What do you remember the most crazy thing that Fred VanVleet did on the court in a game or practice?
He was just a dog everyday. Getting to the rim being a bully. And his work ethic was crazy.
How did head coach Gregg Marshall groom and prepare you best for a professional career?
Just to work hard. I’m able to take tough coaching and not to give myself to excuses. And enjoying the culture of winning
Darral Willis told me in an interview he would beat Shaquille Morris anytime. How was it for you?
One on one from the wing yeah that’s no problem. I’m not playing Shaq in the post.
Who was the toughest player that you ever faced in the NCAA that reached the NBA?
Miles Bridges ( Charlotte Hornets ) He was super athletic and in a blink of a eye he’s on the other side of the court with his quickness
Please name your five best teammates of all-time?
No order : Frank Mason Tekele cotton Fred VanVleet James Blackmon Melo Trimble
Please list your personal NBA Mount Rushmore?
MJ Kobe Lebron Shaq
What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time?
We just got to appreciate them all. Mike led the way for all of us. Kobe mastered Mike & Lebron is a combination of both .
Thanks Rashard for the chat.