Coach Bob McKillop with this year’s mens basketball seniors. Photo courtesy Tim Cowie

Varun Maheshwari ’23 (he/ him), Co-Sports Editor

After a heartbreaking loss to N.C. State University, men’s basketball seniors Kellan Grady ‘21, Carter Collins ‘21 and Bates Jones ‘21 had to decide what their future held with graduation nearing and their time under Head Coach Bob McKillop coming to an end. 

“They have made us incredibly proud[…]they have created plenty of options for themselves whether that be graduate school, in Kellan’s case a shot in the NBA or the business world,” Coach McKillop commented. 

All three starters decided to enter the transfer portal, with hopes to pursue their fifth year option at other universities to engage in more diverse competition, play on different style teams, or pursue a graduate degree. Grady, Collins and Jones are able to play a fifth year due to the NCAA’s policy of granting athletes an extra year of eligibility due to COVID-19. 

Kellan Grady ‘21 came to Davidson as one of the highest recruits under Coach Bob McKillop. He was a four year starter here and finished his Davidson career off with an average of 17.4 points per game. After the loss to N.C. State in the NIT tournament, Kellan, along with his former AAU coach, Coach McKillop, and his other family members, decided it was in his best interest to enter the transfer portal and pursue his fifth year option instead of pursuing a career overseas in Europe. 

“His aspiration is to be in the NBA and he’s trying to determine his best route there. [We] have spoken to NBA officials and we gave Kellan a lot of information and based on that we shared with him the option of the European market[…]But after speaking with his father, [they agreed] putting himself on a more visible stage was the best option for him,” said Coach McKillop. This visible stage will be none other than the University of Kentucky Wildcats. Grady committed on March 29th and will go on to play under Head Coach John Calipari, with no issues of eligibility once he graduates Davidson in May. 

“Throughout the duration of this year, the goal was always to pursue my options to play professionally[…]I decided then that the college route was the route I wanted to take. Kentucky to me was the best opportunity to one play on the biggest stage and go to a place where they have a successful history of producing NBA players,” commented Grady on his decision to commit to Kentucky. 

After his freshman year, Grady averaged 18.0 ppg and many considered him to be a potential top-15 NBA pick after his freshman year. When asked about whether he should’ve pursued the NBA route then in hindsight, he responded, “I definitely don’t regret it. I’ve become a man at Davidson and I’ve matured in ways that [were] essential to my character development. There hasn’t been a day that I’ve regretted being here.” It is safe to say that Davidson basketball fans are happy Grady did not leave as he left a lasting impact on the program and led the team to many great wins during his four years here. We wish Kellan all the best as he pursues his childhood dream of playing in the NBA and best of luck as he competes under Coach Calipari at Kentucky!

Carter Collins ‘21 committed to Murray State on March 30th after entering the transfer portal following the loss to NC State. Coach McKillop commented, “We assumed that [Collins] was either going to Europe or the job market. The economy [in Europe] has really struggled especially with club sponsors due to COVID and therefore wasn’t as attractive as it would have been. The second best option was to pursue the graduate path and Carter had an emotional kinship with the coach at Murray State and that’s what attracted him to play there. He still has the dream to play professionally and he is creating opportunities for himself.” Collins finished his senior season with an average of 10.9 ppg and will go on to play under Coach Matt McMahon for the 2021-2022 season. We wish Collins all the best as he continues his basketball career over at Racer nation!

Finally, the last senior to enter the transfer portal was Bates Jones ‘21. Jones declined to comment on where he has committed. However, he did speak about his decision to enter the transfer portal. “This fifth year is an option to play more basketball and I could get a solid graduate degree also,” he said. He entered the portal the Monday after the ‘Cats loss in the NIT tournament. Jones ended the interview by saying, “I don’t regret being here at all. The relationships I’ve built with my teammates and coaching staff and the level we were able to compete at, all that combined for a great experience.” When asked about his intentions after the fifth year, Jones said “I definitely want to try and go pro.” We wish Bates the best of luck at his undisclosed new destination for the 2021-2022 season and hope the future brings nothing but success!

The Davidson basketball team will definitely feel the effects of their three leaders departing. However, Coach McKillop is confident in the trajectory of his ‘Cats in the future. “The great thing about those three guys is that they taught the younger guys about leadership. The torch has been passed,” he said.