Duke Basketball Player Profile: Ryan Kelly

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Duke Basketball Player Profile: Ryan Kelly
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This is the continuation of a series profiling Duke's basketball players and what they hope to contribute to this year's team.

It has been about a year since Duke freshman Ryan Kelly committed to the Blue Devils.

A year prior to that many in the Duke fan base likely had never heard of the 6-foot 10- inch forward from Ravenscroft High School in Raleigh.

During his junior and senior years in high school Kelly popped up on the recruiting radars of some of the nation's leading college basketball programs and eventually landed at Duke.

I'm sure there was no pressure from his high school coach Kevin Billerman, who played for the Blue Devils in the 1970s.

Many would think by just seeing how tall Kelly is that he would be a power forward or center.

They would be wrong.

Kelly has a wiry frame and is often compared to Mike Dunleavy in terms of size and skill set. He showed off his shooting ability recently by winning the three point shooting contest at  the McDonald's All-American Game.

So far this year, Kelly has shown a nice feel for the game. However, he still has some work to do before he becomes the type of contributor Duke fans would like to see.

In four games Kelly has played off the bench and has shown he is a capable, if not very, good passer in the high post.

He has also shown a cerebral part to his game, not to mention the aforementioned shooting touch.

In Duke's last game, Kelly showed he wasn't afraid to go banging around down low against a much larger player in Radford's Artsiom Parakhouski. Kelly picked up four fouls but proved he has some toughness despite being significantly smaller and weaker than the Radford big man.

This year, you can probably expect more of the same from Kelly. He can certainly provide some instant offense and heady play off the bench. His size alone could create mismatches for opposing teams.

The maturation of his skill set in the long run will be interesting to watch. He obviously needs to pick up some weight, but he should focus on muscle rather than bulk.

I don't ever see Kelly being a bang down low type player, but more of a Kyle Singer, or Dunleavy-esque player who can do a lot of everything.

I would expect him to get his fair share of bumps and bruises. As with most freshman his defense may take a while to come along to where Mike Krzyzewski feel comfortable with him playing extended minutes.

Kelly can certainly be used to spell Singler, or play with him in what would be an interesting duel mismatch for an opposing teams forwards or guards.

For now, he is another cog in the interesting machine that is Duke Basketball '09-'10.

There is the possibility his playing time may decrease a bit once big man Mason Plumlee returns from his wrist injury. However, that return may affect the likes of Brian Zoubek and Olek Czyz more.

The fact that he can come off the bench with no pressure to have to do anything incredible this year should help Kelly, this once unknown quality, become more of a house-hold name later in his career.

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