Shelton’s Rich Kelly may transfer from Quinnipiac

Rich Kelly averaged 16.7 points and 4.5 assists per game this season for Quinnipiac.

Rich Kelly averaged 16.7 points and 4.5 assists per game this season for Quinnipiac.

Erik Trautmann / Hearst Connecticut Media

The hometown boy starring for the hometown team is always a great story, and Rich Kelly provided that script for the past three years.

Now, Kelly is looking to play elsewhere.

Kelly, a Shelton product who led Quinnipiac in scoring this past season, is looking to transfer, he announced on Twitter on Tuesday.

“After careful consideration, I have decided to enter the transfer portal and evaluate all my options for next year,” Kelly said on his Twitter page. “I have not ruled out returning to Quinnipiac.”

Kelly averaged 16.7 points and 4.5 assists per game this season and was named to the All-MAAC second team for the second season in a row. The former Fairfield Prep and Cheshire Academy standout made the league’s All-Rookie team as a freshman. He was named Hearst Connecticut Media’s Boys Basketball MVP in 2016.

Kelly is a junior but will graduate in May, so he will be a grad transfer eligible to play one season right away. Of course, that probably doesn’t matter, since the NCAA is expected to pass legislation next month that will allow all student-athletes, regardless of class, a one-time opportunity to transfer without having to sit out a season.

Reached by text on Tuesday, Kelly didn’t want to discuss the situation. But sources tell Hearst Connecticut Media that he has already been contacted by numerous, high-level programs. Kelly, who will graduate with a degree in finance, is expected to weigh academics strongly in his decision.

Kelly’s decision is a double whammy for Quinnipiac. Kevin Marfo, the Bobcats’ second-leading scorer and the leading rebounder in the nation (13.3 per game) this season, recently announced he has entered the transfer portal. Marfo, also a grad transfer, has heard from numerous high-major schools (including UConn), according to multiple reports.

“It’s never anything personal,” said Baker Dunleavy, who just finished his third year as Quinnipiac’s head coach. “Guys are gonna take advantage of their freedoms to be mobile and try new things. That’s kind of how this current generation of basketball operates. As coaches, we have to adapt or die.”

Redshirt sophomore forward Nate Davis, who played sparingly this season, also announced this week that he will be transferring.

Dunleavy isn’t fretting too much.

“We really like our young talent,” the coach said. “We think we have guys in the program that are ready to step up and take advantage of opportunities. And that’s the way it has to be. And, certainly, bringing in transfers yourself. There is a cycle to it. All coaches have to be on their toes and take advantage of every opportunity to make your roster the best it can be.”

The Bobcats, who finished 15-15 overall and 10-10 (fifth place) in the MAAC this season, will bring in Tymu Chenery, a versatile, athletic, 6-foot-5 wing from Alexandria, Va. next season, as well as Jamil Riggins, a 6-6 forward who red-shirted as a freshman this season. The Bobcats also have Savion Lewis, the 2018 Mr. Basketball in New York who broke his foot eight games into this season and took a medical redshirt, ready to step in for Kelly at point guard.

Of course, Kelly has expressed his sincere interest in possibly returning to Quinnipiac. However, the allure of playing for a high-major program almost always wins out in these situations. Due to the coronavirus pandemic that has emptied college campuses across the country and restricted on-campus recruiting visits until at least April 15, there’s a good chance Kelly may have to commit to a school without visiting it.

“To expect to never lose a transfer, especially when guys play really well and score a lot of points, is unrealistic,” said Dunleavy. “We understand players’ rights to be mobile. Whenever someone’s gonna graduate with eligibility left, it’s always gonna be a discussion. Whether Richie chooses to come back or leave, I think exploring options is just gonna be a part of college basketball for those who have eligibility.”