New kid on the block: Kelyn Bolton embraces chance at Shawnee Mission East

Shawnee Mission East junior Kelyn Bolton believes he can play Division I basketball.
Shawnee Mission East junior Kelyn Bolton believes he can play Division I basketball.

Being the new kid is never easy and that’s what junior Kelyn Bolton experienced this summer when he moved from Raytown South and enrolled at Shawnee Mission East.

However, Bolton used sports as a way to make friends quickly as he joined the football and basketball teams. He said his time at SM East has been “great” and he’s “happy to be here.”

“The first day of school was kind of tough because I didn’t have anybody to walk in the halls with,” Bolton said. “When I first came here, I already met a bunch of people. I met with (basketball) coach Shawn Hair before I came here. I built a couple of friendships before school started.”

He’s already built strong bonds with Hair and football coach Dustin Delaney.

“Coach Delaney makes sure my grades are right,” Bolton said. “Coach Hair checks on me; calls me into his office and we have talks not just about basketball, but how I’m doing in school or at home.”

Hair and Delaney care about Bolton. Not saying that wasn’t the case at Raytown South, but there is a noticeable difference, Bolton said.

He thinks he has a chance to aspire to better things. He’s always had a dream of playing college basketball, but it seems like a reality now more than ever.

“He believes in us and he believes how hard we’re pushing him,” Hair said. “I think he thinks this is a good fit for him.”

Bolton isn’t being pushed in the gym or on the football field, but also in practice. The classroom aspect intimidated him at first.

He said he wasn’t used to “everybody talking about 4.8 GPAs.” The academic standard at SM East is high and he’s finally realizing that college is only three semesters away.

“I think he sees he has a ton of potential,” Delaney said. “Coach Hair and I saw that in him early. We’re pushing him in that direction and I know that’s something he wants to do as well. I think the light at the end of the tunnel is, ‘I can use athletics to go to college.’”

There are a lot of talented basketball players at Raytown South and Bolton said if you weren’t one of coach’s favorites then you weren’t going to be able to showcase what you could do at the varsity level. He thinks Hair is giving him that opportunity.

Bolton believes he can play Division I basketball, but he said he needs to believe it; believe in himself.

That’s the biggest thing him and Hair have talked about. He needs to believe he’s the best player on the court every day, but not in a cocky way, but for self-motivation.

“Kelyn doesn’t know how good he can be,” Hair said. “We’ve pushed him to aspire to play at a higher level. He’s the new kid trying to fit in with some other guys. That’s a tough adjustment, but Kelyn can really drive the ball. If he continues to do that, he can have a great career for us.”

He’ll see or hear about a player who’s good and he’ll think to himself if he’s as good as him or maybe not.

“Games where I’m not worried about it is when I play my best,” Bolton said. “Games when I’m confident is when I feel more relaxed.”