Gray top JUCO prospect
6'8 Taj Gray of Wichita, Kansas is one of the top junior college freshman in the nation and he's garnering lots of attention after a standout first season at Redlands (OK) Community College for Head Coach Steve Eck.
As a senior at Wichita East HS, Gray averaged 20.9 points, 15.5 rebounds and 5 blocked shots per game and led his team to the 6A State Championship with a 45-42 win over Hutchinson. Gray had 21 points, 10 boards and blocked 4 shots in the final and averaged a tournament high 24.3 points per game. Gray had season highs of 38 points and 25 rebounds.
And Gray made the most of his first year at Redlands.
Taj averaged 15.2 points, 9.8 rebounds and made 69% of his shots from the field. He led Redlands to the NJCAA National Tournament, was named the Region II Player of the Year, and was honored as a 2nd Team NJCAA All-American in 2003, only one of two freshman named to the All America squads.
"He could have averaged 25 points," said Eck, noting that five other players for Redland averaged double figures scoring.
According to Eck, University of Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino made the trip to Oklahoma during the season to see Gray in action. And Gray must have made quite an impression as the interest from the UofL coaching staff is quite apparent in the voluminous amount of mail the young star receives from the 502 area code.
And if it helps, Eck approves of Pitino's and Louisville's interest in his star player.
"I've always been a fan of Coach Pitino's," Eck told ITV.
Eck described Gray as a solid all around ball player who has many strengths to his game.
"He plays hard and loves the game," said Eck. "He can drive on you and blocks a lot of shots."
The versatile Gray is primarily being recruited as a power forward, according to Eck but sometimes the young forward actually thinks he's Magic Johnson.
"Sometimes he'll get the rebound and take it down the floor himself," Eck said. "He thinks he's a 6'8 point guard."
Eck said Gray needs to improve his three point shooting during the off-season.
Eck indicated that Gray is looking for a school where academics come first and a team that likes to get up and down the floor.
According to Eck, Gray will attend the Jerry Mullin camp in July (same tournament Nouha Diakite shined at last year) and will probably make his college decision over the summer.
Gray, who had 20 points and 20 rebounds against Three Rivers C.C. in the NJCAA tourney, is doing fine in school as well.
Notes about Taj Gray
- Gray was ranked as the #21 power forward in the class of 2002 by Brick Oettinger.
- Gray was the Gatorade Kansas Player of the Year in 2002.