Kellan Grady patiently stood and waited on the hardwood.
The line of young children seeking autographs and photos with him was never long on Friday afternoon inside the Sports Center near Fayette Mall in Lexington, but it was seemingly never ending.
The boys and girls had just finished participating in a basketball camp hosted by Grady, who played one year at UK as a grad transfer from Davidson last season, and CJ Fredrick, the redshirt senior set to make his much-anticipated UK debut in the Bahamas in just a few days.
Grady stood and smiled as he signed a plethora of basketballs and shirts, and at one point even held a baby for a photo, a moment more reminiscent of a campaigning politician than a man who recently completed NBA Summer League action with the Denver Nuggets.
“It’s something CJ and I had spoken about doing for a while, in fact almost dating back to last summer,” Grady told the Herald-Leader of hosting the two-day basketball camp. “I always get enjoyment out of this, just seeing kids smile and seeing them be willing to come and learn from us and just be around us.”
While Fredrick and his 2022-23 UK men’s basketball teammates spent Friday afternoon inside Memorial Coliseum attending the public memorial service for Wildcats legend Mike Pratt, Grady handled award and autograph duties at the camp.
Then, he offered a preview of what’s to come from Fredrick and this year’s UK team.
Grady said he attended UK’s practice Thursday, which came less than a week before Kentucky plays the first of four preseason games against international opponents in the Bahamas.
“They’ve got some talented guys, that kid Cason Wallace can really go. . . he’s got lottery pick potential,” Grady said of UK’s top-ranked recruit for this season. “I expect them to be a very good team.”
Other things of note that stood out to Grady from the practice?
In addition to saying Wallace was one of the best players on the floor, Grady said senior forward Jacob Toppin has made “ginormous strides” and also praised the play of senior guard Sahvir Wheeler.
He also teased the potential shots available for Fredrick, who is still yet to play a game for the Cats after shooting 46.6% from three-point range at Iowa and missing all of last season due to a torn left hamstring that required surgery.
This injury followed another leg surgery that also occurred last offseason.
Grady talks NBA experience
As for Grady, things moved fast after Kentucky was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament at the first hurdle by St. Peter’s.
He went through the pre-draft process, hired former NBA player Mike Miller as his agent (Grady said Miller was on the court working with him leading up to the draft), went undrafted and signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Denver Nuggets.
The deal is a one-year, partially guaranteed contract.
The 24-year-old Grady played in four games for the Nuggets during NBA Summer League action, with per-game averages of 15.7 minutes, 5.5 points and 1.3 assists and rebounds each.
He shot 34.5% from the field and 14.3% from three-point range, after shooting 44.6% from the field and an SEC-best 41.7% from three-point range during his lone season at Kentucky.
“I think it’s about refining all the things I’m good at and trying to be as efficient in those areas,” Grady said of what his focus has been at the pro level. “I’m not trying to reinvent myself, just find ways to be as productive as I can.”
Next will be training camp with the Nuggets, although Grady has already gotten a small taste of the players he’ll be seeing on a regular basis.
During Summer League, Grady was around ex-Cat Jamal Murray and Nuggets regulars Bones Hyland and Davon Reed.
“They played pickup with us. . . it’s always good when you’re around better players,” Grady said.
One player he hasn’t met yet? Reigning two-time MVP and basketball wizard Nikola Jokić, who jets back to his homeland of Serbia almost instantly after the Nuggets’ season ends.
Wednesday, Aug. 10: Kentucky vs. Dominican Republic National Select Team, 7 pm (SEC)
Thursday, Aug. 11: Kentucky vs. Tec de Monterrey, 7 pm (SEC)
Saturday, Aug. 13: Kentucky vs. Carleton University, 6 p.m. (SEC)
Sunday, Aug. 14: Kentucky vs. Bahamas National Team, noon (SEC)