There is certainly a pattern in the three high school recruits Tubby Smith signed in the 2014 class—they are all long and lean with long arms. Keenan Evans and Zach Smith fit that description. And so does Tampa, Florida utility man Justin Gray.
Listed at 6-foot-5 and 185 pounds by Texas Tech, Gray is yet another Tech recruit who plays larger than his frame.
In fact, Gray, who chose the Red Raiders over the likes of Harvard, Kansas State and Stanford, rather looked like a man among boys at the high school level. He blocked shots with apparent ease and grabbed rebounds effortlessly against outclassed foes.
And "effortless" is a good way to describe Gray's game. He makes the game look so easy that it almost seems like he's not even trying. Described another way, Gray plays under complete control; there's a real smoothness about him.
Above I described him as a utility man, and that he was at Tampa's Berkeley Prep. Gray played every position on the court, and it's easy to envision him playing three spots at the collegiate level.
He is currently seen as a two guard, but if he is indeed 6-foot-5, and particularly if he puts on another inch, there is no reason whatsoever he couldn't play some small forward.
"I really thrive on being a complete player and push myself to be a complete player, because I don't want to be one of those players who just gets subbed in for offense or defense," Gray said. "I want to stay in the game, so I pretty much train for the overall game to be that full, complete player and I know Texas Tech is going to make me an even more complete player and give me a chance to maybe be on the next level."
And when you watch Gray handle the basketball you can see why his coach sometimes had him run the point. Gray has terrific court vision and can pinpoint the ball to a teammate in traffic. He looks as much like a point guard as actual point guard signee Keenan Evans. Bottom line—Justin Gray will bring tremendous versatility to the Red Raiders and will contribute immediately because he will be able to get on the court at three different spots.
The athletic guard averaged 17.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists as a senior en route to earning first-team all-state honors from both the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches and Source Hoops.
There are a few other things to watch out for when Gray hits town. First, Gray is a smart player. There is some question about his deep ball accuracy (yet another reason to think he could actually see more minutes at one and three than two, early on), but Gray is adept at working for closer shots that are within his range. Gray will not settle for bad shots.
Another thing about Gray is his toughness. He plays with real tenacity and determination in traffic and on the glass. When Gray gets his claws on the pumpkin, everybody else can just forget about it. He owns the rock.
And finally, Gray will wow folks with his acrobatics in transition. He is not quite the dunking machine that Zach Smith is, but he makes some very pretty—and pretty effective—moves when he's on the move and heading to the hoop.
All in all, Gray is a very polished and talented player who looks like he's Big 12-ready right now.
Talent Assessment: Justin Gray
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