Rashard Kelly wants to be more than just a professional basketball player.
He wanted to play for Gregg Marshall with that goal in mind, but he also came to Wichita State wanting to better his life after basketball.
So while Kelly auditions for a professional basketball team in Las Vegas this week, he also has business ventures ready to go in the back of his mind. After graduating with a sports management degree in May, Kelly wants to someday return home to Fredericksburg, Va., and put that degree to use.
He envisions multiple basketball courts and two football fields outside. He wants a youth league for every sport and even a 40-and-up basketball league for the "old heads." He wants to provide something to keep kids off the streets and invested in a sport.
"I want to be my own boss," Kelly said. "Back home, there's not much going on. We don't have a Sports Forum or a Next Level. I want to open up my own sports complex one day and be the first one to do that back home."
In order to pursue that dream, Kelly wants to make as much money possible playing basketball.
He increased his chances this week in Vegas, where he played in the Worldwide Invitational. His team won the championship on Wednesday and Kelly played a key role.
"I felt like I was able to be more myself and play more free," Kelly said. "The junkyard dog is coming out regardless, but I felt like I showed my versatility and talent level. It was a good week for me."
Kelly said he was grateful for the opportunity to play the junkyard dog role at Wichita State, but he still laments what could have been last season.
WSU entered the season with a top-10 ranking, finished 25-8 and lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as a No. 4 seed.
“I think we just didn’t take care of the little things,” Kelly said. “We lost a lot of big games late. Notre Dame, Cincinnati at home, at Temple, Houston. We made little mistakes late, but they were really big things and they ended up on paper as a ‘L.’ ”
And on the mysterious defensive regression?
“I don’t think we had that same dog in us as usual,” Kelly said. “The dog that Fred (VanVleet), Tekele (Cotton), and Ron (Baker) had. And then coach (Chris) Jans was a great defensive coach and so was Greg Heier. We lost both of those guys and they were some key pieces.”
Kelly said he will pay close attention to how the Shockers fare this season and is expecting big things from Markis McDuffie, who is the only player on the 2018-19 team that has been with the Shockers for more than one season.
And if he’s still around the area, he hopes to return to a game at Koch Arena to see the WSU fans again.
That final decision should be coming soon, as Kelly weighs his options following his performance at the Worldwide Invitational and decides where he wants to play professionally.
"I've got to provide for my family," Kelly said. "Whatever opportunity comes, that's where I'm going to go. If it's overseas, then I'm going to be young and traveling the world. If it's here in America, then that's a blessing, too."