College Sports

Did Davidson’s Kellan Grady come back too soon from a knee injury? He thinks so.

Davidson’s Kellan Grady (31) was a first-team all-Atlantic 10 performer last season.
Davidson’s Kellan Grady (31) was a first-team all-Atlantic 10 performer last season. TIM COWIE/

Davidson’s Kellan Grady admits that he probably came back from a knee injury too quickly last season.

Grady, the Wildcats’ All-Atlantic 10 junior guard, missed four games after hurting his right knee against Winthrop in December. He had surgery and returned four games later, in good enough shape to average 17.3 points and 4.5 rebounds and help Davidson to a berth in the National Invitation Tournament.

But it was too soon.

“I knew it was a risk,” Grady said. “But I was more concerned with helping the team win games. I was back on court, but I was less efficient than I was the season before.”

Even though he averaged 37.6 minutes per game, the shooting accuracy, explosiveness and mobility that Grady used to help him to A-10 rookie-of-the-year honors the season before weren’t there.

“Kellan came back too early because of his hunger to play,” said Wildcats coach Bob McKillop. “When you come back too early from an injury, it makes becoming 100 percent even more challenging. That’s the challenge he had, playing while not at 100 percent. I think he’s at 100 percent now.”

Looking back, Grady admits it was a complicated decision, one that went to physical as well as psychological issues. .

“It’s a tricky thing to analyze,” Grady said Tuesday at the Wildcats’ media day in uptown Charlotte. “When you have surgery, there’s a healing process, but it’s also about not only getting back to your playing self, but to your full self. I just got back to my playing self.

“So with the healing, I did not come back too soon. But in terms of the real process of recovery, yes, I did come back too soon.”

Grady, who is one of five returning starters from last season’s 24-10 team, says he’s back to his full self now.

After last season ended, he went to the “K-Lab” at Duke (named for Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski), which, according to its website “(focuses on) the preservation of long-term joint health through injury prevention and rehabilitation following injury.”

“They tested my lower body and were able to find where I was deficient,” Grady said. “Also where I was most deficient in other areas. As a result, we put together a three- or four-month plan for over the summer.”

Grady said he worked on strengthening his hamstrings and quads with Wildcats athletic trainer Justin King and strength and conditioning coach Evan Simon when he returned to campus over the summer. He also spent a month at home in Boston, rising at 7 a.m. three times a week to work out.

He said he’s going to continue to see the sports psychologist that helped him last spring.

“She helps me get locked in, stay focused,” Grady said.

Then there’s his time back on the court. Grady said he played pick-up a few times over the summer in Charlotte with some current and former Hornets and NBA players, including Kemba Walker, Marvin Williams, Troy Daniels, Jeremy Lamb, Cody Zeller and Brian Roberts.

“Playing in the NBA is my No. 1 goal,” said Grady, who made himself available for the NBA draft after his freshman season before pulling out. “Marvin Williams called me over and said I have a shot at playing in the league if I stay focused, stuff like that.

“But I wanted to give those guys their space. You don’t want to overcrowd them. But if somebody recognizes and respects your ability and talent, you definitely want to listen.

“Troy Daniels made a joke about not wanting to have to play defense that day, but I made him have to play defense.”

Davidson notes

The Wildcats, who received 36 votes in The Associated Press Top 25 poll, play their Red-Black scrimmage Saturday at 5:30 p.m. in Belk Arena. Davidson will face Glenville (W.Va.) State in a home exhibition Nov. 4 before opening the season Nov. 8 against No. 24 Auburn in Annapolis, Md.

Davidson got a verbal commitment earlier this week from Sam Mennenga, a 6-foot-8 forward from New Zealand. Mennenga is another example of Wildcats coach Bob McKillop’s commitment to recruiting internationally. Davidson has six players from overseas on this season’s roster, including true freshmen Hyunjung Len (South Korea) and David Kristensen (Denmark).

McKillop said a knee injury that has nagged senior guard KiShawn Pritchett his entire career might keep him out of the season opener against Auburn. “I’m hopeful,” McKillop said. “It’s a day-to-day thing. KiShawn is a pivotal part of our plans.”

David Scott: @davidscott14