Basketball's Jake Kelly to leave Hawkeyes

BY SCOTT MILLER | MARCH 27, 2009 7:30 AM

Jake Kelly, Iowa’s leading scorer this past season, will transfer from the program to be closer to his family, according to the Tribune-Star newspaper in Terre Haute, Ind.

“He wanted to be closer to home after the death of his mother this past year,” Bob Kelly, Jake’s father, said in the report.

Associate Sports Information Director Steve Roe said he had no knowledge of the Tribune-Star’s report and that he hadn’t been told about Kelly’s release from the program. Men’s basketball coach Todd Lickliter had no comment on the situation, and Kelly could not be reached for comment by The Daily Iowan.

However, the sophomore confirmed via Facebook he was leaving the team, and in the process, gave thanks to Hawkeye fans who had given support.

“It really means a lot to me that all the Hawkeye fans are being understanding,” he wrote on his Facebook page Thursday night. “I won’t forget how passionate the fans are here, and I will always be proud to have worn the Iowa uniform.”

Kelly, whose parents divorced when he was in sixth grade, lost his mother, Julia, in a June 2008 plane crash. On Iowa’s media day, Oct. 13, 2008, Kelly noted that being away from his family made the mourning process harder, especially because his mother moved to Solon to be close to him when he started college.

“It’s very tough,” he said at the time. “It’s tough seeing your family go through it more than anything.”

Despite this, the Carmel, Ind., native remained one of the leaders of a young Hawkeye team that was trying to bounce back from losing the most games in school history during the previous season. And after starting point guard Jeff Peterson went down with a hamstring injury on Feb. 11, head coach Todd Lickliter leaned on his budding star.

The sophomore responded by averaging 21 points, six rebounds, and five assists — all while playing 42 minutes per game — over the last six regular-season contests. He was named Big Ten Player of the Week twice during that stretch and received honorable mention All-Big Ten.

Two days after he played through a 101-degree fever to lead Iowa to a double-overtime victory over Penn State on March 7, Kelly addressed rumors that claimed he would transfer to Indiana State. While he said he thought about transferring after his mother passed away, he maintained he would be a Hawkeye next year.

“I’m here, and it’s where I’m going to be,” he said on March 9.

But sometime after Iowa’s embarrassing 73-45 loss to Michigan in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, Kelly changed his mind. According to the Tribune-Star report, he would like to play at nearby Indiana State, but no plans have been completed.

“He hasn’t had any contact with the [Indiana State] coach yet to know if they would be interested or not,” Bob Kelly told the Tribune-Star. “I would guess that would be upcoming shortly.”

In the report, Bob Kelly stressed his son wasn’t leaving Iowa City because of a dispute with anyone on the team or the coaching staff.

“He really liked [former coach] Steve Alford,” Bob told the Tribune-Star. “He likes Coach Lickliter a lot, too. He’d just like to get home.”

The report came one day after junior Jermain Davis confirmed rumors that he planned to transfer to Minnesota State-Mankato. With the loss of Davis and now Kelly, Lickliter will be without two of his three point guards next season.

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