Kellan Grady stood patiently and waited on the hardwood.
The line of young children seeking autographs and photos with him was never long Friday afternoon inside the sports center near the Fayette Mall in Lexington, but it seemed endless.
The boys and girls had just finished participating in a basketball camp hosted by Grady, who played a year in the UK as a graduate of Davidson last season, and CJ Fredrick, the red-shirted senior who will be making his highly anticipated UK debut in the Bahamas in just days.
Grady stood and smiled as he signed a plethora of basketballs and shirts, and at one point even held up a baby for a photo, a moment more reminiscent of a campaigning politician than a man who recently finished NBA Summer League action with the Denver Nuggets.
“It’s something that CJ and I had been talking about doing for a while, in fact for almost last summer,” Grady told the Herald-Leader of hosting the two-man basketball camp. days. “I always get pleasure from it, just seeing the children smile and seeing them ready to come and learn from us and just be around us.
While Fredrick and his 2022-23 England men’s basketball teammates spent Friday afternoon inside the Memorial Coliseum attending the public memorial service for Wildcats legend Mike Pratt, Grady took care of the duties of giveaway of prizes and autographs at the camp.
Then he offered a glimpse of what was to come from Fredrick and the UK team this year.
Grady said he attended the UK practice on Thursday, which took place less than a week before Kentucky played the first of four preseason games against international opponents in the Bahamas.
“They have talented guys, this kid Cason Wallace can really go for it. . . he has lottery pick potential,” Grady said of the UK’s highest-ranked signing this season. “I expect them to be a very good team.”
Any other things of note that stood out for Grady from practice?
Along with saying Wallace was one of the best players on the court, Grady said senior forward Jacob Toppin had made “tremendous progress” and also praised senior guard Sahvir Wheeler’s play.
He also teased the potential shots available for Fredrick, who still hasn’t played a game for the Cats after shooting 46.6 percent from three-point range at Iowa and missing all of last season with a tear in his chest. left hamstring that required surgery.
This injury follows another leg operation that also happened last offseason.
Grady talks about his NBA experience
As for Grady, things moved quickly 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 worked with him in the field before the draft), went undrafted, and signed a 10 piece contract with the Denver Nuggets.
The deal is a one-year, partially guaranteed contract.
Grady, 24, played four games for the Nuggets in NBA Summer League action, averaging 15.7 minutes, 5.5 points and 1.3 assists and rebounds apiece.
He shot 34.5 percent from the field and 14.3 percent from three-point range, after shooting 44.6 percent from the field and an SEC-best 41.7 percent from three-point range in his lone season at Kentucky.
“I think it’s about refining all the things that I’m good at and trying to be as good at those things,” Grady said of his pro-level goal. “I’m not trying to reinvent myself, I’m just finding ways to be as productive as possible.
The next will be training camp with the Nuggets, although Grady has already had a small preview of the players he will see regularly.
During the Summer League, Grady was surrounded by former Cat Jamal Murray and Nuggets regulars Bones Hyland and Davon Reed.
“They played pickup with us. . . it’s always good to be surrounded by better players,” said Grady.
A player he hasn’t met yet? Reigning two-time MVP and basketball magician Nikola Jokić almost instantly returns to his native Serbia after the Nuggets season ends.
Wednesday August 10: Kentucky vs. Dominican Republic National Selection Team, 7 p.m. (SEC)
Thursday August 11: Kentucky vs. Tec de Monterrey, 7 p.m. (SEC)
Saturday August 13: Kentucky vs. Carleton University, 6 p.m. (SEC)
Sunday August 14: Kentucky vs. Bahamas National Team, Noon (SEC)