Dedication pays off for Penn Hills’ Daemar Kelly with commitment to Quinnipiac

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Sunday, September 25, 2022 | 11:01 AM


The transformation of Penn Hills senior guard Daemar Kelly wasn’t something that happened overnight. Long days and nights in the gym allowed the 6-foot-5 Indians senior guard to slowly progress into being a strong all-around basketball player.

Kelly made his college choice last week, selecting Quinnipiac over Rider, Robert Morris and Radford.

“It was a big stress relief,” Kelly said. “My last year of high school, I don’t want to have to worry about scouts. I just want to play to win.”

Quinnipiac plays basketball in the Metro Athletic Athletic Conference. The Bobcats finished last season 14-17 with a 7-13 record in conference play.

Kelly was drawn to the school, in part, because Tahar Sutton was hired to be an assistant coach. Sutton had coached Kelly on the AAU circuit and is someone Kelly enjoyed playing for. Kelly did say, however, that Quinnipiac coach Baker Dunleavy had already reached out to him before Sutton was hired.

“The first person that reached out was coach Dunleavy,” Kelly said. “He showed me a lot of love and attention.”

When it comes to playing for Penn Hills, Kelly has made a large impact for the Indians over the past few seasons. A two-time all-section choice, Kelly averaged 17.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game last season.

As a team, the Indians pulled off a few upsets to reach the PIAA Class 5A quarterfinals last season. Penn Hills coach Chris Giles, who took over the Indians program when Kelly was a sophomore, was impressed with his dedication.

Kelly played AAU basketball for a Philadelphia-based team, which required a lot of trips around the state.

“That kid and his family travel every weekend, even during the week, to go out to Philly and practice,” said Giles, who played for Seton Hill. “It’s a testament to that kid and his family helping him to achieve his dream.”

What Kelly would like to do before he heads off to college for summer workouts is to continue to add more skills to his game. When it comes to offense, Kelly wants to have diverse skill sets to be able to utilize in college.

Kelly also wants to help Penn Hills pursue another WPIAL championship.

“I want to shoot consistently,” Kelly said. “I’ve made a lot of progression over the last few years. I want to get strong and more fundamentally sound for the next level.”

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