When people talk about the best class of 2004 players in the state of Kentucky, two names creep to the top of almost every list.
Most say Sarah Elliot, at 6-foot-7, is not only the most dominant post player in Kentucky, but also ranks among the best in the nation. But according to Kentucky analyst Rick Bolus, the player with the best resume for the top spot is 6-foot-3 Crystal Kelly of Sacred Heart Academy in Louisville.
He list of honors is impressive -- Gatorade Kentucky Player of the Year, Sweet Sixteen state tournament MVP, USA Today National Player of the Week, and a member of the Orlando (yes, Orlando Florida) Sentinel's All-Southern team.
As a junior, MVP Kelly led Sacred Heart to their second consecutive state title and a 37-1 record. In the four games of the Kentucky state tournament, she had totals of 70 points and 27 boards. For the season, she averaged 18.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game.
For her career, she already owns the school record for rebounds (1,123), and ranks second all-time in total points (1,839), field goals made (717), free throws made (404), steals (279) and blocked shots (260).
Kelly's game is a nice mix of power and athleticism. She can dominate in the post, even against bigger and players. What puts her in a class apart is her versatility. She looks to project as a power forward at this point, but can certainly refine her skills to play anywhere from the small forward spot to the deep post. He team uses her in a variety of different roles, roles that have expanded through her career at Sacred Heart. The 2003-04 season saw Kelly moving out to a perimeter roll, and even placed her at the point in certain situations.
Old Gold Free Press analysts Capri Small and Bob Sternvogel had these observations during the 2002 Nike All-American Camp -- "Can sink the outside shot. Her superior speed allowed her to compete against taller players."
Sacred Heart ended Sarah Elliott and Jackson County's hopes for the 2002 state championship by blitzing them with 30 unanswered points in a 10 minute stretch in the first two quarters of their matchup last year. Kelly had 14 points and 16 rebounds playing in the post against Elliott, who finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds of her own.
Kelly averaged 16.5 points per game as a sophomore, and was named a Student Sports All-American.
Purdue has taken a great deal of interest in the versatile player, as well as in-state schools Louisville, Kentucky and Western Kentucky. Kelly has yet to narrow her list.