Penn Hills’ Daemar Kelly joins Philly AAU team for high-end summer competition

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Sunday, July 4, 2021 | 10:01 AM


Daemar Kelly told Penn Hills basketball coach Chris Giles his goal was to play AAU basketball for Team Final in Philadelphia.

Giles had a friend whose son played on one of their younger teams. He was able to put Kelly in touch with the coaches.

Then Kelly, who has offers from Robert Morris and Radford, was in charge of putting together a highlight reel to submit to coaches.

“I wasn’t nervous,” Kelly said. “I was just playing my game. I wanted to let the game come to me. I had heard about them through social media. I saw them play on Twitter and YouTube.”

Kelly, who is 6-foot-5 and will be a junior this year, was given an opportunity and has been playing with Team Final’s 16U team. Playing for them involves his parents making a four-and-a-half hour trip to the Philadelphia area every weekend.

“It’s a great experience for him, playing with other elite players,” Giles said. “It’s good competition and iron sharpens iron. He’s been humble in that situation. He hasn’t come back with a big head. He’s been working harder.”

The program claims Tyreke Evans, Mike Kidd-Gilchrist and Dion Waiters as alumni who found their way to the NBA.

What Kelly likes is the way Team Final plays. They encourage intensity on both sides of the court. Kelly is used to that from his time with the Indians.

“It’s the same for the AAU team,” Kelly said. “We want to play with intensity and get up into people.”

Kelly developed into an important cog for Penn Hills last season, which won its section and finished with a 13-5 record after reaching the WPIAL Class 5A quarterfinals.

“He’s physical and has God-given size,” Giles said. “He can shoot the ball, he can dribble the ball, and he is a good passer. He does all the things the college players can and has the skills college teams are looking for.”

What Kelly is looking for is to continue working toward his goal of playing at the next level.

Playing with the team out east has highlighted areas he needs to work on. He’s looking to take advantage of the long trips and bring the experience back home.

“I’ve been learning to know different ways to score, knowing when to take over a game and when to get teammates involved,” Kelly said.

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