Basketball: One-on-One With Fred Gulley

Fred Gulley spent part of Sunday afternoon watching LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers roll to an easy win over the Dallas Mavericks. But the future Oklahoma State Cowboys took a few minutes to visit with about a number of topics, including rumors about Cowboy head coach Travis Ford possibly being a candidate for the job at Kentucky.

The 6-foot-2 guard from Fayetteville, Ark., has heard the rumors about Ford being a possible candidate to return to Kentucky where he played from 1992 to 1994. But as of Sunday afternoon he had yet to talk with anyone on the Cowboy coaching staff about the chances of Ford leaving OSU.

"I haven't talked to any of the coaches about it. I've heard quite a few rumors," Gulley said. "I'm not sure what to think ... it does worry me some but I'm pretty confident that Coach Ford will be (at Oklahoma State) next year.

"I'm sure if anything comes up they'll definitely get in touch with me. I think I'll probably be one of the first people that knows about it. I think they're doing the same thing that I'm doing ... they're just sitting back waiting to see how things play out."

Gulley said he plans to be in Stillwater in early June for the start of the first summer session of classes. "I want to get some classes out of the way and try to get acclimated," he said.

Another goal is to be the Cowboys' starting point guard when the season tips off in November. Gulley was one of three point guards signed by the OSU coaching staff last November – joining 5-9 Ray Penn of Richmond (Travis High), Texas, and 6-1 Reger Dowell of Duncanville, Texas.

Gulley knows that it's the perfect opportunity for someone to see early playing time with four-year starter Byron Eaton using up his eligibility. "I want to be the person that fills in for Byron. I see myself coming in and being a steady point guard that contributes," he says.

The Gatorade Arkansas Boys Player of the Year for the second consecutive year, Gulley had a dream season as a senior, leading his Fayetteville High School team to a perfect 30-0 record and the Class 7A state championship earlier this month.

The Bulldogs captured the 7A state championship with a 40-34 victory over Rogers with the 6-2 Gulley scoring a game-high 21 points while holding Rogers' 6-6 Aaron Hawley, who has signed with Drake, to 13 points on 4-of-14 shooting.

"It was a close game but we knew it was going to be that way because they were a good team. We didn't have one of our best games but good teams win even when they don't play their best. We fought it out and won the game," said Gulley, who was named MVP of the Class 7A state tournament.

Gulley, who averaged 16.4 points per game as a senior, was outstanding in the three-game state tournament. He scored 24 points (18 in the first half) in Fayetteville's 69-55 victory over Fort Smith Southside in the quarterfinals, and then had a season-high 27 points in a 68-51 win over Cabot in the semifinals. He then capped the perfect season by scoring more than half of his team's points in the state title game.

"We wanted to take it one game at a time and about halfway through the year we decided we'd come too far to let a loss ruin the season. The last half of the season we decided to make it a team goal to win the last game on our schedule," he said.

Gulley saw his scoring average drop slightly as a senior but he contributed in other ways. He finished the season averaging 16.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.3 steals and 2.8 assists for the Bulldogs, who were recognized as one of the nation's top high school teams in several national polls (No. 18 USA Today Super 25 Index, No. 32 ESPN RISE Fab 50 Rankings, No. 23 MaxPreps Xcellent 25, No. 18 MaxPreps Power Ratings).

"Your numbers always go down when you have a team the caliber of ours this season. We had three or four players score in double digits, and that's the first time I've had that kind of talent around me in high school," said Gulley, who was one of four Fayetteville starters to earn 7A All-State honors.

"I just wanted to come out and win. Whatever it took for us to win, if it took me scoring 20 or if it took me scoring two, whatever it took for us to win. I was pleased with my numbers but I was more excited about us winning the state championship."

Gulley was impressed with what he saw from the Cowboys this season, including the late-season run which led to a return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four years.

"It was the beginning of the Coach Ford era. At the beginning of the season they were learning a new offense. Coach Sean's (Sutton) style of play and Coach Ford's style of play are so different, so I think as the season progressed they picked up his system more and it really showed," said Gulley, who is one of just 20 players nationwide selected to play in the Reebok All-American Game in Washington, D.C., in April.

"At the end of the season they could compete with anyone in the country. I think they showed that in the NCAA Tournament. I think it's more that they figured out what Coach Ford expects from them.

"I feel really good about my decision to sign with Oklahoma State. I feel that coach Ford and the staff really did a great job, especially the last half of the year, and I'm looking forward to being a part of it in the future."

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