Hampton chooses 3-sport standout basketball, college

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Saturday, April 16, 2022 | 10:01 AM

Sophia Kelly’s response was what she wanted to hear from MercyHurst women’s basketball coach Brooklyn Coleheim.

Kelly, a senior three sports star from Hampton, was on a recruiting call with a Division II school when Coleheim asked a question.

“I said, ‘You’re really good at soccer. You’re really good at lacrosse. Why did you choose basketball?'” Coleheim said. I liked that response. That’s what really sold me to her.

At 5 feet 9 feet tall, Kelly is committed to playing at Mercyhurst, the only school that offered him a basketball scholarship. She did not start playing AAU basketball until her junior season, and was late for the recruitment trial.

But when Kelly was playing for the Western Pa Bruins Under Armor team in Kentucky in July, a coincidence of Coleheim started the events leading up to an offer from the PSAC school.

Kelly said of MercyHurst, “It fits me perfectly. “The whole atmosphere with the coaching staff and team.”

Coleheim was in Louisville to recruit Kelly’s AAU team member and eventually Bailey Kunz, the Mersihurst Committee of Greensburg Central Catholic. But the Lakers coach quickly noticed the long, athletic Hampton guard.

“Sofia caught our attention,” Coleheim said. “I really did not know anything about her. We were surprised she was still available. She has such a magnificent height. She plays many other sports and over the last few years she has started playing basketball competitively. She fell under some kind of radar.

“She has never seen her best basketball. She does not even know what she can do.

Kelly was selected as the first-team all-section junior after averaging 12 points, and the second-team all-section as the senior after 10.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists, leading 18-5 talbotes in steals. She finished with 796 career points – the 14th all-time high in Hampton history – and led the team with 390 plus minus this season.

Kelly, along with Hampton teammate Biz Watson, was selected for the Roundball Classic Basketball Game. Class 5A (Silver) All-Stars will face District 10 All-Stars on May 19 at Geneva College, Beaver Falls.

Kelly is the second Hampton player to commit to playing college basketball since class 2022, and Pitt joins Kyla Hohler as he moves to Greensburg.

Kelly decided to focus on winning a basketball scholarship a few years ago after being told that Soccero would be his easy ticket to Lacrosse College. Kelly did not want to take the easy way out.

“One of my inspirations is why I changed (sports),” Kelly said. “I played club soccer until my junior year. In the middle of my junior year, I switched to AAU (basketball). I could go to a good football school and play. I do not know. I always wanted to challenge myself and I thought I could do it in basketball.

Kelly also created some friendly college competitions at her home. Both of her parents played sports at PSAC rival Ganon. Jason played football for the Golden Knights and Cara (Eisenmeid) played basketball.

“It’s kind of a joke,” Kelly said. “My mother played in Gunn, and now I’m going to school against her.”

Hampton coach Tony Howard has no doubt that Kelly will succeed in college, calling her “probably one of the best pure shooters I’ve ever trained in 15 years” and calling her fitness “off the charts”.

“Obviously, I think she has the fitness and basketball skills to play at the next level,” Howard said. “Her knowledge of the game is going to make her really great.”

Kelly will play as a guard / forward spot for Coleheim’s up tempo attack. The Lakers went 9-19 last season and have only had two winning seasons in the last 22 years. Going into the fourth season, Coleheim said Kelly’s fitness and erroneous attitude make her a perfect fit.

“We are very young as a program,” Coleheim said. “We are in the process of changing that. I need some dogs like that. We need underdogs who want to come in swing.

Kelly’s defensive skills will give her a chance to play soon. MercyHurst graduated with its best defensive guard, defending all positions on the floor while Kelly was at Hampton at one point.

“She’s special,” Coleheim said. “She has such pure fitness. What I liked about her over the summer was that she could withstand multiple guards.

For the first time since starting to play three sports, Kelly will focus solely on basketball at Mercyherst, where she will focus on cybersecurity and computer science. As a Hampton senior, she sandwiched her basketball season between a first-team all-section soccer season fall and lacrosse, where she was one of the team’s best players this spring.

“I have been training my body for all three sports since the beginning of my sporting career,” she said. “I think focusing on one thing and training for one sport will really improve my athletic ability to play basketball.

“I feel like I’m starting now.”

Tags: Hampton

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