Alumnus Antonio Kellem heads to NCAA men’s basketball tournament
March 9, 2017
A Lincoln Park graduate is headed to the NCAA Division II men's basketball tournament for the first time after his college basketball team advanced with a win on Saturday.
Antonio Kellem, a 6-foot-1 shooting guard, is a starter on the championship Shippensburg University men's basketball team. The sophomore scored 13 points for the Raiders and grabbed eight rebounds.
The Raiders won the 2017 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Championship last weekend, defeating Kutztown 73-63. This is SU's second PSAC title in school history and the first since 1991.
"Last year we made it to the final four for PSACS, but we actually fell short and lost. This year we made it back to the final four and won," Kellem said, adding "Every team that we're going to be going up against — it's going to be tough."
No. 2 seed Shippensburg has an automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament and will play No. 7 seed Virginia Union on Saturday at Fairmont State University, the host spot for the first three rounds of the tournament.
A Conway resident, Kellem graduated from Lincoln Park in 2015 after playing basketball all four seasons.
Lincoln Park Coach Mike Bariski said Kellem started his first game as a freshman point guard and continued every match-up after, playing 123 straight basketball games for Lincoln Park.
"He went to Shippensburg and he started at Shippensburg from his first game his freshman year there too," Bariski said.
As a member of the Lincoln Park Leopards, Kellem scored 1,326 career points, was a part of two WPIAL championship teams, and won the PIAA Class A state championship his junior year. As a senior, he led the WPIAL in minutes played.
"He was an all-state player for us, an all-section player for us, and probably the most quality kid we've ever had," Bariski said.
Bariski remembers when University of Kentucky Coach John Calipari came up to Midland to see a couple of the players. At that time, Kentucky was the No. 1 basketball team in the country.
"After he watched Antonio, he said by the way he's built and the way he plays, if he was 6-foot-4, I would offer him a scholarship today, but he wasn't."
Kellem said playing basketball at Lincoln Park helped prepare him for college basketball. "We played some really big games, trying to prepare ourselves for things like this. It's easy to get rattled, especially when you're playing a good team."
"When I was in high school playing with some of the players, like Elijah Minnie, Maverick Rowan, Ryan Skovranko, and even Nelly Cummings, it really helped give a feel for competition. Even at practice, it was a dogfight in a sense where we were going at each other, trying to make each other better."
"I think it prepared me now for the next level."
Kellem said Bariski is a genuinely good person and someone he really looks up to.
"Coach B is such a great guy. He's done so much for me over the years and great things for the players, both on and off the court. He's kind of taken care of me. If I ever needed something, he was always there. He's one of the nicest people I've ever met, and I'm happy to have spent four years with him."
Kellem said his college coach, Chris Fite, is great as well, and keeps the team calm and focused on the task at hand.
"My teammates—I have a great group of guys on my team—they believe in me and we also believe in each other. When you get along on the court, I feel like it gives you more confidence and it keeps you focused on who you're playing and what the goal is."
Off the court, Kellem, who switched majors from exercise science to marketing, said he is "doing pretty well" in college, though he is feeling the pressure of midterms coming up soon.
"I have some tough classes, but it's more about adjusting and time management, scheduling your classes and being able to know when to study and go to practice. There's definitely a learning curve. As the year goes on, you kind of learn. And now I think I got the hang of it."
About Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School
Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School (www.lppacs.org) is a Pennsylvania public school providing a state-approved academic program and pre-professional training for grades 7-12 in music, theater, dance, creative writing, health science arts and media arts. The school enrolls students from more than 65 surrounding school districts.
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