Jessan Gray finds his way to Iowa State

Jessan Gray's path to the court at Iowa State hasn't been a straight path. The Davenport, Iowa native made a couple of stops on his way to Ames. "I started out at Indiana, but that just wasn't the right fit for me," Gray said. "I went down to Tyler [Junior College] and played really well down there."

Returning to Iowa wasn't always on Gray's mind, things just worked out that way.


"I don't really get homesick," he said. "But it's really nice being back here; I have a lot of family and friends in the state of Iowa."


At Davenport Central, Gray earned all-conference honors after averaging 10.1 points and 6.3 rebounds as a senior. He was an all-metro selection and a top-100 McDonald's All-American nominee.


Initially out of high school Gray said he wasn't heavily recruited by Iowa State and then head coach Larry Eustachy.


"His coaching staff didn't get along with the coaches I was talking to at the time as far as my AAU coach and my high school coach," Gray said. "They didn't think it'd be the right fit for me at the time, so I didn't look into [Iowa State] that much."


So Gray ended up in Indiana, where he appeared in seven games, scoring four points. He said the Hoosier basketball program and its storied tradition has likeliness to all programs nationally.


"It's similar to every other college," Gray said. "They work just as hard, but the conditioning isn't as hard as it is here. We have a good program here and I'm pleased with my decision."


After deciding Indiana wasn't right for him, Gray headed down to Tyler, Texas, where he averaged 10.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and shot 48.8 percent from the field as a sophomore.


Gray said that year at Tyler helped to ‘settle' him down.


"Out of high school I thought it was all like the movies go and have fun," he said. "I think junior college helped me settle down as far as basketball and academics; so I think it's really helped me a lot."


Gray, who plays either the three or four, said his role on this Cyclones squad is simple.


"Just to rebound," he said. "We have three of the best scorers in the country, as far as anything me and Shawn [Taggart] need to do is just rebound and kick the ball out to them and score when we can."


There are a couple games Gray is already getting anxious to play, the first being Iowa State's December meeting with in-state rival Iowa.


"I'm an Iowa kid," he said. "I know everybody on Iowa's team; I worked out with them since seventh-eighth grade. Mike Henderson, I played with him for three years, so I'm looking forward to this game more than ever.


"I can't wait to go to some of the places like Kansas and Texas Tech. I've met Bobby Knight before so I know him and it's going to be fun for me."


Gray's also excited to play for ISU head coach Wayne Morgan.


"He's a players coach," Gray said. "He's the type of guy if you ever have a problem, you go talk to him. That's one of the things that drew me to him; he's just a real down to earth person."


Gray arrived in Ames two weeks before classes started and said it's good to be back in the Midwest.


"It's great," he said. "I love the people, they're fun. I'm a real talkative type person, if you come up to me and talk to me, I'll talk back. I have no problem with that, I'm just real free and fun."


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