Hampton 3 sports standout picks basketball, makes college pick
Saturday April 16, 2022 | 10:01 a.m.
Sophia Kelly’s response was exactly what Mercyhurst women’s basketball coach Brooklyn Kohlheim wanted to hear.
Kelly, a senior three-sport star from Hampton, was on a recruiting call with the Division II school when Kohlheim asked a question.
“I said, ‘You’re really, really good at football. You’re really, really good at lacrosse. Why did you choose basketball?'” Kohlheim said. said she could never play basketball in college, and she thought, ‘I wanted to prove them wrong.’ I loved this answer. That’s what really sold me on her.
The 5-foot-9 Kelly has committed to play at Mercyhurst, the only school that offered her a basketball scholarship. She didn’t start playing AAU basketball until her junior season and was behind on the recruiting track.
But a chance sighting of Kohlheim while Kelly was playing for the Western Pa. Bruins Under Armor team in Kentucky in July sparked the events that led to an offer from the PSAC school.
“It was just a complete adjustment for me,” Kelly said of Mercyhurst. “The whole atmosphere with the coaching staff and the team.”
Kohlheim was in Louisville to recruit Kelly’s AAU teammate and possible Mercyhurst signing Bailey Kuhns from Greensburg Central Catholic. But the Lakers coach was quick to notice Hampton’s long, athletic guard.
“Sophia kind of caught our eye,” Kohlheim said. “I really didn’t know anything about her. … We were surprised that she was still available. She has a huge advantage. She plays a lot of other sports and she really started playing basketball competitively over the last few years. last few years. She kind of fell under the radar.
“She hasn’t even seen her best basketball yet. She doesn’t even know what she can do.
Kelly was named to the all-section first team as a junior after averaging 12 points and was named to the all-section second team as a senior after averaging 10.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists and leading the Talbots 18-5 in steals. She finished with 796 career points — 14th all-time in Hampton history — and led the team this season with a plus-under of 390.
Kelly, along with Hampton teammate Biz Watson, was selected for the Roundball Classic basketball game. The Class 5A (Silver) All-Stars will face the District 10 All-Stars on May 19 at Geneva College in Beaver Falls.
Kelly is the second Hampton player from the Class of 2022 to commit to playing college basketball, joining Kayla Hoehler, bound for Pitt Greensburg.
Kelly decided to focus on earning a basketball scholarship a few years ago after being told football or lacrosse would be his easier ticket to college. Kelly didn’t want to take the easy route.
“That’s one of my motivations why I changed (sports),” Kelly said. “I had played club football until my freshman year. Halfway through my junior year, I switched to AAU (basketball). I probably could have continued and played in a good football school too. I don’t I always wanted to challenge myself and I thought I could do it in basketball.
Kelly has also created a friendly collegiate rivalry in her household. Both of his parents played sports at PSAC rival Gannon. Jason played football and Cara (Eisenschmid) played basketball for the Golden Knights.
“It’s pretty funny,” Kelly said. “My mum played Gannon and now I’m going to her rival school.”
Hampton coach Tony Howard has no doubt Kelly will do well in college, calling her “probably one of the best pure shooters I’ve ever coached in 15 years” and calling her athleticism “out of the ordinary.” charts”.
“Obviously I think she has the athleticism and the basketball skills to play at that top level,” Howard said. “Her knowledge of the game is what will really make her excel.”
Kelly will play guard/forward for Kohlheim’s fast-paced offense. The Lakers went 9-19 last season and have just two winning seasons in the last 22 years. Kohlheim, entering his fourth season, said Kelly’s athleticism and proving you’re wrong attitude make him a perfect fit.
“We’re pretty young as a program,” Kohlheim said. “We are overthrowing it. We need dogs like that. We need underdogs who want to come and rock.
Kelly’s defensive abilities will give him a chance to play immediately. Mercyhurst graduated its best defensive guard, and Kelly at one point defended every position on the floor at Hampton.
“She’s special,” Kohlheim said. “She has such pure athleticism. What I liked about her in summer is that she can defend multiple guards.
For the first time since starting three sports, Kelly will focus solely on basketball at Mercyhurst, where she will major in cybersecurity and IT. As a Hampton senior, she’s sandwiched her basketball season between an all-sections football season with the first team in the fall and lacrosse, where she’s one of the best players in the game. team this spring.
“I’ve been training my body for all three sports since the start of my athletic career,” she said. “I think focusing on a sport and training for a sport is really going to hone my athletic ability to play basketball.
“I feel like I’m just getting started.”