MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. – Kelly Thames is a local basketball legend who was known for his dominant scoring and athletic ability. The Jennings High graduate went on to play Division I basketball at the University of Missouri and was deemed by critics “The Future of The Mizzou Program.” He had an incredible freshman season, starting in all 32 regular-season games, averaging 12 points and 7 rebounds per game.
Mizzou fans took a devastating blow once they found out he tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while doing conditioning drills leading into his sophomore season. Despite the season-ending injury, Kelly Thames went on to have an impressive basketball career. The 6-foot 8-inch power forward earned two All-Big 12 Conference awards, sits at the No. 8 spot for all-time scorers in Mizzou history, and played professionally overseas.
He currently works at Pattonville High School as a business teacher and serves as the varsity boys basketball head coach. He came on the scene and helped revive the program. Yet these days, it’s not Kelly Thames who is getting people excited about Pattonville basketball – it’s his son, Kellen.
Kellen Thames made his highly anticipated varsity debut last season. He started every game and averaged 9.8 points and 4 assists per game as a freshman. He also leads his team in steals, tallying 45 total. His performance earned him Honorable Mention All-Conference in the Suburban North.
It’s hard to imagine too many high school players with the skill, talent, and character that Coach Thames possessed. I mean, he did win Mr. Show-Me Basketball in ‘93, but he believes his son is on track to have an even better career than he did.
“I’ll tell you what, this kid is a hard worker,” said Coach Thames. “He is a great kid. He wants to learn, wants to get better, and his work ethic and basketball IQ are off the charts. He has definitely surpassed me in those aspects when I was his age.”
Kellen is beginning his sophomore season and is anxious to show everyone just how hard he has been working on his game. Kellen says that having his dad as his coach has pushed him to become the player he is today.
“It’s cool being coached by my dad because I know he will always tell me what’s best for me. He will tell me what I need to work on – regardless – and not sugar coat it. The more honest he is, the better I will get,” said Kellen.
As for Coach Thames, balancing the role of coach and dad has brought its challenges, but the two are managing just fine.
He confessed, “I think [Kellen] is so used to me being around his games that it doesn’t phase him. It’s been an adjustment for me because I’m his dad first and foremost, but I’ve had to learn how to approach him and talk about specific situations as a coach.”
The 6’3” sophomore guard played with local AAU basketball club Brad Beal Elite over the summer and gained notoriety amongst some of the top players in the EYBL. Kellen has the potential to be a top recruit in his class of 2022 if he continues to develop at this rate.
Coach Thames spent his fair share of time in the limelight and has been doing his part to prepare his son for the success that could be.
“My dad always tells me to stay hungry. Don’t give in to success. Keep my right mind on and off the court. Do the right thing, stay out of trouble, and take advantage of my opportunities,” said Kellen. “As far as on the court, he tells me to always give 100% effort, because when I do that, good things will come. Oh, and always play hard because you never know who’s watching.”
Will Kellen have a breakout year? Will he grow five more inches? Will he chase his dad’s legacy and wind up playing at Mizzou as well?
These questions and many more will be answered here in the upcoming years. For now, let’s just see what damage this father-son duo can do this season.