Austin Kelley signs to play for Valdosta State

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 18, 2019

Pleasant Home senior hoop star Austin Kelley signed his National Letter of Intent to play for Valdosta State on Friday morning at PHS in front of his family and friends.

Kelley recently got back from a visit to Valdosta State and said he really enjoyed the campus.

“It was mainly the coaching staff,” Kelley said on what sold him on Valdosta State. “I could tell that they really wanted me to be a part of their program. I fit in well there and it’s a nice area. It really came down to probably the coaching staff.”

Kelley said that he was deciding between a few schools before landing on Valdosta.

“Delta State in Mississippi and Snead State which is a junior college in Boaz were my other two choices,” Kelley said. “It was those three until the end. It was a very tough decision.”

Having the chance to become a more complete player is something that Kelley said he is looking forward to play at Valdosta.

“I’m looking forward to developing more to my max as a player,” Kelley said. “I want to see what true potential I have and if I can unlock it all. Hopefully, I will be able to contribute there and we can do something special like win a championship.”

Coming in as a freshman and earning playing time is something that Kelley said he will push to achieve.

“If I come in and work hard when I get there, and they see that I can play right away,” Kelley said. “It’s an option and I’m going to work as hard as I can to contribute as early as possible.”

Mike Helfer is the men’s head basketball coach at Valdosta State and Kelley is the first freshman that Helfer has offered a scholarship.

Helfer is believer in recruiting junior college players and a 78-13 record over that past three years shows that the strategy has paid off.

Kelley said he has learned a lot in the time he has been at Pleasant Home.

“When I first moved here, Troy Turman was my coach,” Kelley said. “He was really big on really teaching me the game. He took a chance on me as a freshman and sophomore because I was on varsity at a young age. I think that was really big. When I moved in, he saw the potential in me and he really helped me to where I am now. Coach (Fred) Kelley stepping in this year has taught me a lot as well. Those two coaches have been huge for me as a player. My travel ball coaches are here today also. They’ve been great and I have put me out there. It’s really been my family, my coaches and it’s just been a group effort.”

Kelley is the son of Jason Kelley and Sarah Smith Kelley. Jason played basketball at Faulkner University and Sarah played at the University of Alabama.