After every open gym with a new recruit, Shawn Lewis brings him aside and lays out the test.
The Cal Poly senior and Mustangs men’s basketball team’s resident air-walking expert has to know what he’s dealing with.
“I just put them on the spot,” Lewis said. “ ‘Can you dunk? Show me something right now.’ ”
He wasn’t expecting much from Ben Kelly when the 6-foot-7, 175-pound sharpshooter from Melbourne, Australia, was visiting campus a while back.
“It really didn’t look like he had it in him,” said Lewis, a 6-foot-5 swingman known for his own impressive leaping.
“He just went up there and cocked it back pretty easy. And it’s really easy to me, so, of course, somebody else has to be really good for me to be impressed.”
After Kelly showed off a stunning vertical to slam the ball, Lewis was quick to call him the best leaper of any of the prospects Cal Poly coach Joe Callero has brought in for a campus visit.
And Kelly is coming.
Callero confirmed Thursday that the 19-year-old Australian has been admitted to Cal Poly and will be joining the team for the upcoming season.
Lewis wasn’t doubting Kelly because he looked unathletic. Kelly was just showcasing his outside shooting in the pickup game instead of venturing toward the rim.
His shooting is what caught the eye of coaches when they first saw him on tape. Now that they know he’s multidimensional, they’re very pleased.
“What’s great about that is he has a very unique high release,” Callero said. “He’ll be able to get his shot off against good athletic Division I teams … He actually reminded me, of (former Duke forward Mike) Dunleavy, kind of that long gangly skinny guy, and as he develops and fills in he can run, he can dunk and he’s skilled.”
Kelly averaged 16 points, four rebounds and three assists for his club team, the Melbourne Tigers Junior Basketball Club, last season. He shot 44 percent from the field and 32 percent from 3-point range.
“Ben played at the shooting guard and both forward positions on our national championship teams,” said Kelly’s coach, Scott Christiansen, in a news release. “We expect that Ben will make an immediate contribution at the college level.”
Kelly joins fellow incoming freshmen Maliik Love and Jamal Johnson, both guards, as additions to a team that also redshirted five players last season. In total, the Mustangs return four starters and eight letter-winners.
Runner who died in crash was Poly commit
Just days after attending a freshman orientation at Cal Poly, incoming freshman track and cross country runner Amanda Post was one of three people killed in a three-car traffic collision near Bishop late Tuesday.
Post, an honor student and CIF-San Diego Section girls champion in the 800 meters at Cathedral Catholic High in San Diego, was less than two weeks away from reporting for training camp with the Mustangs.
“She was just very bright, articulate and had a nice demeanor about her,” Cal Poly track and field coordinator and cross country head coach Mark Conover said. “You could tell that she was going to find a lot of success at Cal Poly and life beyond out there in the real world.”
Post and several others were returning from a training session in Mammoth Lakes when the SUV she was in collided with a van loaded with athletes from California Baptist University headed to Mammoth before the SUV caught fire and was hit by a third vehicle.
Natalie Nield, a high school teammate of Post who was headed to Loyola Marymount, and Cal Baptist cheer coach Wendy Rice were the other two fatalities. Sixteen others were injured and several remain in critical condition.
Poly women’s soccer picked to finish second
After winning its sixth Big West Conference regular season title last year, the Cal Poly women’s soccer team was selected to place second in the preseason coaches’ poll.
The Mustangs, who finished 14-5-1 (7-1-0 Big West) before falling in the conference tournament final, received two first-place votes and 61 total points.
UC Santa Barbara, the team that beat Cal Poly in penalty kicks for the tournament title in 2009, is favored to win with four first-place votes and 75 points.