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Chimacums loss is Spartan hoops gain
Is it too soon to think about basketball season? Not for Steven and Brittany Gray.
The Spartan boys basketball team got a big lift this summer.
With key players already returning to form a deep, talented squad, Bainbridge got another quality player in Steven Gray.
The former Chimacum star and his sister Brittany, also a basketball player, moved to the island with their family in May hoping to compete at a higher level, both athletically and academically.
(Well be) playing in the toughest league in the state, Steven Gray said of the Metro League. I figure if I want to go (collegiate Division I), which is one of my goals, that playing against this type of competition with these types of players will be a good experience for me to get ready for the next level.
It didnt take long for him to reach for the next level, as he verbally committed to Gonzaga University, in Spokane, while at that schools basketball camp in July. He wont be able to officially sign until November 2006 per NCAA by-laws.
They would have offered it to me any time, but I wanted to make (the commitment then), Gray said. It was a good school, and thats why I went with them.
Spartan head coach Scott Orness said hes never had a player move on to a Division I school, and thinks the Gonzaga Bulldogs will benefit from having Gray on their team.
I think its a perfect fit for him and their type of program, he said. Its close to home so he can still see his family, but hell be able to grow on his own.
In the meantime, Gray has two years of high school basketball to complete, and the junior comes to the Spartans with an impressive resume.
In his freshman year with Chimacum, he averaged 21.2 points per game and was selected to the Associated Press All-State first team, an unheard of accomplishment at that time. Last year was his breakout season. As a sophomore, he averaged 27.3 points per game in leading the Cowboys to a sixth-place finish at the state tournament, their highest finish since 1969.
Gray was named the Nisqually League MVP, selected to the all-state first team again and named the APs 2A state player of the year.
Im excited to have him, Orness said. Hes known for scoring, but he can pass (as well).
Gray joins a packed back court which includes junior T.J. Benz and sophomores Caleb Davis and Nick Fling that will try to fill the shoes of point guard Grant Leslie, who graduated.
It was a question mark, Orness said. But all of these guys, including Steven, arent typical guards. They can play the 1, 2 or 3 spot of point guard, off guard or small forward.
Orness has also been impressed with the work ethic and attitude Gray has displayed during the Spartans summer workouts.
He plays unselfishly, the coach said. Hes committed and he hasnt missed a practice. (Plus) hes really nice.
You always kind of wonder when someone new comes in and if theyre gonna jell, especially when we have a real strong team coming back and a lot of good players, but he has made everybody
better, I think. Hes taken a lot of pressure off a lot of our other players.
Grays commitment hasnt wavered, even with his constant travels to basketball camps and tournaments around the nation with his travel team, Total Package. Even with all the travel, Gray has been able to befriend his new Spartan teammates.
These guys are a good group of guys, he said. Its been a blast (playing with them).
Coby Gibler, a junior forward, has been impressed with Gray and his talents.
Hes been great. Hes fit right in with our personality and hes funny, Gibler said. Hes got the ability to score anywhere. He does something great every game.
While Orness is clearly pleased with Grays appearance in the Spartan program, he wont be clearing a spot in their trophy case just yet.
You dont want to (get) sucked into the hype, he said. Were just going to keep working hard every day and hopefully get into where we want to be at the end of the season.
Also joining the Spartan hoops program is freshman Brittany Gray, who has been playing with high school kids since the fifth grade through the Total Package program.
Girls basketball coach Penny Gienger said the younger Gray has the talent to leave her mark on Bainbridge girls basketball.
Shes very good, Gienger said. Shes a great rebounder and shes got great hands. Shes very skilled, and she doesnt try to do too much. She lets the game come to her, which a lot of kids dont know how to do.
Gienger said theres no reason to put pressure on Brittany because of her brothers pedigree or what the team needs.
The Spartan girls lost only two players to graduation and all five starters will return, so Gray may come off the bench.
Shes coming into a very seasoned team, Gienger said. Thats going to allow her to mature at the level she can mature at. She doesnt have to step in and make us a great team.
Brittany said she gets compared to her brother, but she also knows shell have time to grow and learn the game without having to live up to expectations save for her dad.
Im just going to try and do my best, she said. My dad keeps telling me to work hard or else I wont go to college. Thats my goal, but I still have time.
* * * * *
Name: Steven Gray
Height: 6 3
Experience: two years varsity.
Favorite subjects in school: English and math.
Hobbies/interests: Hanging out with friends, going to the beach.
Which basketball player do you look up to? Richard Hamilton (Detroit Pistons). The way he moves off screens and the way he hustles is great. Hes one of my favorite players.
Name: Brittany Gray
Height: 5 8
Experience: first-year varsity.
Favorite subjects in school:
science and math.
Hobbies/interests: Listening to music, hanging out with friends.
Which basketball player do you look up to? Sheryl Swoopes (Houston Comets). The first time I saw her I wanted to play like her.