Marshall’s Kelly Named C-USA Newcomer of the Year


IRVING, Texas – Marshall senior forward James Kelly earned the program’s first Conference USA Men’s Basketball Newcomer of the Year award when the individual C-USA men’s basketball awards were announced Tuesday, March 8.

The honor is the first of his one-year career after two seasons at Owens Community College, the playing one season at Miami-Fla. in 2013-14 and sitting out the 2014-15 season in Coach Danny D’Antoni’s first season with the Herd. On Monday, Kelly became the first Thundering Herd player in history named to the All-C-USA first team.

He is the fourth Thundering Herd player in program history to receive the fifth individual C-USA specialty award as the Herd’s Dago Pena and Tulsa’s Steven Idlet tied in 2010 for the Sixth Man of the Year – and also in 2010, Hassan Whiteside won both the Freshman of the Year and the Defensive Player of the Year – while in 2011 DeAndre Kane was the league’s Freshman of the Year.

“In one year James helped our fans get excited about Marshall basketball again, and I thank him for his hard work,” D’Antoni said. “His impact on our program will leave a lasting impression.”

Against Southern Miss on Saturday, the Miami (Fla.) transfer became the second player in Marshall history to record at least 600 points and 300 rebounds in a single season, joining Herd Hall-of-Famer Russell Lee who did it as a junior (1970-71) and a senior (1971-72). Entering the C-USA Tournament, Kelly has 639 points and 307 rebounds – one of only three Division I players to date this season with the 600/300 combination.

His all-around dominant play led to 14 double-double performances, tied for 28th in the nation and second-most in the league to only Charlotte’s Joseph Uchebo, who has 16. He was the only player ranked in the top three in the conference for both points (20.6 per game) and rebounds (9.9 per game) for the regular season.

MUBSKB 2015-16 3-5-16 win over USM in OT 108-106, Marilyn Testerman-Haye, Kelly at end of regulation with lay-up for tie-5

James Kelly watches the layup with no time on the clock drop through the basket to tie the game against Southern Miss, a game the Herd would win in OT. Kelly was named the C-USA Newcomer of the Year Tuesday after earning first team All-C-USA honors on Monday. (HI photo by Marilyn Testerman-Haye)

The 6-foot-8, 259-pound forward was named the league’s Player of the Week three times this year, marking the first time a Herd player earned the honor more than once. He led the league’s defensive rebounding statistic with 8.1 per game, ranking No. 9 in among Division I men’s basketball players. Against Charlotte on Feb. 18, he posted Marshall’s first 20/20 game in 43 years with 27 points and 23 rebounds. His 23 boards are the second-most in a single game by a 2015-16 D-I player.

Kelly helped Marshall reach a program-record 12 wins in Conference USA play, as well as the No. 3 tournament seed – both the best marks for the Herd in 11 seasons in C-USA (2005-2016). The Herd also finished 7-2 in C-USA home dates, the most Henderson Center league wins since joining C-USA in 2005-06 as well as finishing with a 10-4 overall mark at home – the eighth time in nine years the Herd has won double digit games in Huntington.

The 2015-16 specialty teams and awards are as follows:

James Kelly, Marshall, Sr., F, 6-8, 259, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Dirk Williams, UAB, Sr., G, 6-5, 180, Homewood, Alabama

Marcus Evans, Rice, G, 6-2, 190, Chesapeake, Virginia

William Lee, UAB, So., F, 6-9, 210, Plantersville, Alabama

Jon Davis, Charlotte, G, 6-2, 193, Upper Marlboro, Maryland
Andrien White, Charlotte, 6-3, 184, Richmond, Virginia
Zoran Talley, Old Dominion, F, 6-7, 195, Merrillville, Indiana
Marcus Evans, Rice, G, 6-2, 190, Chesapeake, Virginia
Terry Winn, UTEP, F, 6-7, 230, Monroe, Louisiana

*Adrian Diaz, FIU, Jr., F, 6-10, 230, Miami, Florida
Alex Hamilton, Louisiana Tech, Sr., G, 6-4, 194, Chipley, Florida
Brandan Stith, Old Dominion, R-So., F, 6-7, 230, Lawrenceville, Virginia
Marcus Evans, Rice, Fr., G, 6-2, 190, Chesapeake, Virginia
William Lee, UAB, So., F, 6-9, 210, Plantersville, Alabama

*repeat selection

As the No. 3 seed in the Conference USA Tournament, the Herd will face either No. 6 UTEP or No. 11 FIU on Thursday, March 10, at 9:30 p.m. ET at Legacy Arena in the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) in Birmingham, Ala. The game will be televised by American Sports Network.

About Woody Woodrum

Senior Editor and columnist/writer for Herd Insider since 2003, with Kindred Communications on radio for Marshall football/men's basketball pregame and postgame shows since 1996 and with First Sentry Bank Sportsline (Also Scott on Sports, Sideline Sports and Herd Insider Sportsline) since 1997. Married to Liz (12-22-1990) and one son, Tre' (11-7-1997). National Sportswriters & Sportscasters West Virginia Broadcaster of the Year winner for radio, 2000; won W.Va. Broadcasters Best Talk Show in 2013 with co-host Paul Swann and W.Va. Broadcasters Best Play-by-Play in 2015 with Jason Toy (Huntington at South Charleston, state AAA semifinals). Member of (College) Football Writers Association of America, (College) Basketball Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Color commentator for Marshall football (1999-2000), for Marshall basketball (2004-2016) and Marshall baseball (2004-2016). Color for high school football at Spring Valley (1999-2008), Cabell Midland (2009-2012) and Huntington (W.Va.) High School (2013-2016).

Recommended for you