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TAKING ON TOP OPPONENTS: Kelley, Samuel putting their talents to the test

Andalusia High School’s Keaun Samuel and Pleasant Home’s Austin Kelley will be playing against some of Belgium’s top basketball players in July in Dothan.

Kelley and Samuel are both playing for the Deep South Elite basketball exposure team.

Kelley sand Samuel will each be entering their senior seasons in August.

“I started practicing with the team a few weeks ago when a friend asked me to go play with them,” Samuel said. “This will be my first game with the team.”

Kelley said that he is also new to the team.

“This is my first year with the Deep South organization,” Kelley said.

Playing against top talent from overseas is something Samuel said he is excited about.

“It feels great to be playing against the top competition for anywhere,” Samuel said. “To say I’ll be able to against another country feels amazing.”

Kelley also said he is excited to test his game on another country’s top talent.

“I’m very excited to know that I’ll be going up against some of the best players from another country,” Kelley said. “It’ll be a great opportunity for me and my game to play against this competition.”

The opportunity to see how he matches up with other top players is something Kelley hopes to grow from.

“I want to use this game to see where I stack up against other great ball players,” Kelley said. “Hopefully, it will be something I can build on in the future.”

Samuel said he wants to show people how his game has grown since last year.

“The main thing I want to accomplish in the game is to win,” Samuel said. “I also hope to let everyone see my game and how much it has developed since the state semifinal game.”

With top talent on display, there will be many college scouts on hand to watch the players.

“It doesn’t really make me nervous,” Samuel said of playing in front of the scouts. “It just makes me a little more aware that I need to show them what I’m capable of doing against top competition.”

Kelley said he tries to not worry about who is watching him play.

Austin Kelley brings the ball up court.

“I try not to think about who’s in the stands while I’m playing,” Kelley said. “I try to stay as focused as I can since basketball is such a mental game.”

Both Kelley and Samuel hope to play basketball beyond high school.

“I do plan on playing basketball at the next level wherever the Lord leads me,” Kelley said. “I’m still in the process of talking to coaches from different colleges and hopefully some of those will produce offers.”

Samuel said he also doesn’t have any particular college in mind.

“Yes, I plan on playing college basketball after high school,” Samuel said. “Right now, I’m not really picky with the colleges. I just want to continue playing. I don’t have any offers yet, but I hope to have some after this game and many more to come in the fall.”

The game will be part of a two game slate played at Northview High School on July 13. The first game will begin at 6 p.m., with a Dothan travel team taking on one team from Belgium. Deep South Elite will begin around 7:30 p.m., against the second Belgium team.