Farewell, Felder: Point guard signs with agents, leaves Oakland basketball, shoots for NBA

Sam Schlenner

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






He’s wanted this since he was three years old.

“That’s when I picked it up and never put it down.”

Kay Felder, Oakland men’s basketball team’s former point guard, has signed with agents Michael Silverman and Brandon Grier of Athlete Management Group.

This move means Felder is gone from Oakland basketball for good. The junior and 2016 Horizon League Player of the Year had one potential season of eligibility remaining.

His departure isn’t a complete surprise. The possibility of Felder moving on hung around the program in the latter half of the 2015-16 season. Oakland head coach Greg Kampe talked about it in multiple press conferences.

“I believe that he’s going to play in the NBA and have a career in the NBA,” Kampe said a few days before the Horizon League Championship. “I think he’ll have a long career. And the reason for that is his strength, his quickness, his mind. He understands the game.”

At that same press conference, he said he didn’t know if Felder would be back for the 2016-17 season. He said they’d discussed the matter a good deal.

“We’re going to put everybody that’s important in his life in a room when it’s over,” Kampe said, “and we’re going to lay everything out, and then the decision will be made then.”

Long time coming

The NBA has been the goal the whole time, but the possibility started to materialize at the beginning of the 2015-16 season.

“I knew coming in this year, I would have to up my play, do some things I didn’t do last year,” Felder said. “I had a different mindset this year, which is a kill mentality, but on another level than last year.”

It was all out.

“I just competed every game,” Felder said. “I didn’t let off the throttle. Last year I’d maybe try and take a break. But this year, I wanted to take no breaks.”

He saw Oakland’s director of strength and conditioning Terry Sauerbry much more often in summer 2015. Tire flipping, wind sprints, swim workouts.

“I wanted my body to be in the best shape possible so that I [could] last the whole season,” Felder said. “I played a whole game all my years. But this year I felt like I was more effective.”

Now he’s training with a man in Farmington Hills.

Felder hasn’t been invited to the NBA Draft combine yet, but he said he knows he will be.

Final decision

“Leading up to [the Vegas 16 tournament], I felt like I had a good chance of leaving,” Felder said. “I kind of stuck with that and talked with my parents. Once I announced it, that was my final decision. I already had my mind made up before that.”

He’d also met with Kampe. They talked about what he could improve on if he came back, what he would do for the team.

Plus, he’d get a degree. Still will.

“Yeah I’ll get it,” Felder said. “That’s big for [my mother] and big for me because the ball’s not going to bounce forever.”

Felder, his family, Kampe, associate head coach Saddi Washington and assistant coach Drew Valentine had a final meeting. They reviewed scouting research. Felder told why he wanted to leave. Kampe laid out the options.

“I listened to him,” Felder said. “He just said keep your options open. … Make sure that when you make the decision that it’s your decision.”

It was.

He decided from the heart. He signed that contract.

“I felt joy and relief,” Felder said. “No more worries except hard work.”

Mike and B

“They are family,” Felder said of his agents. “They make me feel comfortable.”

Silverman, Grier and Felder have known each other since the latter was in eighth grade. They played in the same REACH league, albeit at different times.

Silverman and Grier represent 11 clients, including former Golden Grizzlies Keith Benson and Felder. Of the nine post-draft clients, seven are unrestricted free agents. Dewayne Dedmon plays for the Orlando Magic and Quincy Acy plays for the Sacramento Kings.

If Felder hadn’t signed agents, he could have returned to Oakland within 10 days after the NBA combine. But he was ready to make the leap.

“I didn’t want to come back,” Felder said. “I had my mind made up. I’m going to sign the agent because I don’t want to come back to this school. I feel like I’ve done everything I could do for Oakland.”

Potential

Whether he decides to enter this year’s draft or wait for 2017 when he’s a senior, Felder has shown NBA scouts that he is a prospect that needs to be taken very seriously.

DraftExpress wrote that on Jan. 3. The website lists him as number 70 for the top 100 draft prospects of 2016.

His strengths are obvious. During the 2015-16 season, he managed 9.3 assists per game complemented by 24.4 points. DraftExpress lists his player efficiency rating as 30.3.

The website said his weaknesses are on defense, that he shows a general lack of interest on that end of the court. Although, it said, he has potential to be a useful bother in the NBA.

“This year, Oakland kind of had to hide me on defense because of the big offensive load that I had,” Felder said. “I can play defense with the best of ‘em. I’ve shown flashes of that this year. If you look at the tape, you’ll see that.”

He said he does have interest on defense.

“I’ll prove that,” Felder said. “I’m quick enough, fast enough and strong enough to guard anybody.”

Felder stands solidly at 5-foot-9. If drafted, he’d join the two shortest active players in the league — Isaiah Thomas of Boston and Nate Robinson of New Orleans. Both are 5-foot-9, as well.

“All my life I’ve had to prove people wrong because I’ve been, you know, short,” Felder said. “‘You can’t do this, you can’t do that.’ … I’m used to it. I love it.”

Legacy

It would be tough to adequately describe what an impact Felder had on the men’s basketball program at Oakland, so we will let the following list of accomplishments speak for itself. 

  • Started in all 101 career games at Oakland 
  • Recorded the program’s only two triple-doubles 
  • Earned third all-time on Oakland’s career assist list and ninth on the scoring list
  • Led the nation in assists with 9.3 a game and was fourth in the nation in scoring with 24.4 points per game in the 2015-16 season
  • Holds the Horizon League career assist record with 788 in three years and the single-season assist record with 324 his junior year
  • Earned Horizon League freshman of the year in 2014 and Horizon League player of the year in 2016
  • Scored a career-high 38 points against University of Washington in 2015 
  • Scored 37 points twice, first against Eastern Illinois in the College Insider Tournament at the end of the 2014-15 season and then against then-No. 1 Michigan State in the beginning of the 2015-16 season
  • Was a mid-major All-American and a Lou Henson Award Finalist during his sophomore year after he was the only player in the nation to average at least 17 points and seven assists a game
  • Earned AP All-American Third Team honors his junior year and was an honoree of Sporting News and NABC’s All-American third teams
  • Became a finalist for John R. Wooden Award and the Bob Cousy Award as a junior 
  • Scored 20 or more points in 30 of 35 games his junior year, recording at least 20 points and 10 assists in 15 games as well 

Compiled by Kristen Davis. Stats from GoldenGrizzlies.com.

Farewell

“I wish him the best,” Kampe wrote in an email. “Hope he is a first round draft choice and he accomplishes all his dreams.”

“To the fans and my teammates,” Felder said, “thank you for being there for me. You have been there from day one and it’s only gotten better from my first year to now. Just keep working. Pray for me. And, see y’all soon.”

The Oakland Post could not arrange an interview with Kampe or other players in time for this issue.

Important dates

  • NBA Combine (Chicago): May 11-15 
  • NBA Draft: June 23