FAIRBANKS — Andrew Kelly came to Fairbanks from Gilbert, Arizona. Now the former Alaska Nanooks forward will be taking his basketball talents to Iceland.
Kelly, the 2013-14 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year, signed a one-year year contract this week with Club Sindri in Hofn, Iceland.
“It’s a great feeling,” Kelly said in a University of Alaska Fairbanks press release. “I had a great two years at Alaska and the opportunity to continue playing is great. I get to follow my dreams and play the game I love.”
Club Sindri is one of 18 teams in the Second Division of the Icelandic Basketball Federation.
Kelly arrived in the Fairbanks after spending two seasons at Chandler-Gilbert Community College in Chandler, Arizona.
Kelly is at least the fourth former Nanook to play basketball overseas. He joins Lathrop grad Justin Bourne, North Pole native Brad Oleson and Kenny Barker. Oleson won his second Spanish championship with FC Barcelona in June.
Bourne played professionally from 2007-10 with De La Salle Jerusalem and the Alaska Dream of the American Basketball Association. Barker played in Germany with FC Bayern Munich.
This past season, Kelly was the GNAC’s second leading rebounder with 8.8 rebounds a game and led all players with 6.0 defensive rebounds a game. He was also in the top 10 in steals (ninth) and blocks (10th). Kelly, listed at 6-foot-7, was also named to the All-GNAC Second Team.
Kelly didn’t begin playing basketball until his freshman year at Chandler-Gilbert Community College.
“As we all know Andrew still has a basketball upside and this level of pro ball is a good starting point for him,” Nanooks head coach Mick Durham said. “When his offensive skills catch up to his defensive skills he will have a chance to continue to extend his basketball career.”
Kelly averaged 12.7 points a game this past season and led the conference by shooting 63.9 percent from the field. He had a team-best seven double-doubles and scored in double-figures 20 times, including a career-best 25 points in a triple overtime win at Northwest Nazarene on Feb. 13.
Kelly ended his Nanooks home career by hitting a buzzer beater to beat Alaska Anchorage 70-68 on Feb. 27. It was the Nanooks first win over the Seawolves in eight years.
Earlier this month, Kelly took part in the Overseas Basketball Combines and the Scorers Showcase at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
“I never thought I’d have a chance to be here,” Kelly said. “All the hours I put in and time spent with trainers and coaches are paying off and now I have a chance to prove myself. Hopefully I can continue to move up and continue my career.”
Kelly helped the Nanooks finish third in the GNAC with a 18-10 overall record and 12-6 in conference play. The Nanooks fell to Western Washington 73-52 in the semifinals of the GNAC Tournament.
Contact sports reporter Tim O’Donnell at 459-7583. Follow him on Twitter: