Meet the freshman: Juwan Gray

Freshman forward Juwan Gray is no stranger to competitive basketball. At 6-feet-8-inches the Dover, Del. native comes from a talented basketball family and a highly successful high school career before he got to the University of San Diego.

Gray spent his high school days at Polytech in Delaware where his 2014-2015 season earned him First Team All-Henlopen North Conference honors and Second Team All-State Delaware.

During his final season at Polytech, he averaged 15 points, eight rebounds, and three and a half assists per game. To put the cherry on top of his senior year, Gray helped get Polytech to the state title game.

After his success at Polytech, Gray decided to attend a post-graduate year at Scotland Performance Institute in Pennsylvania. It was here where he developed his game and became the dedicated and competitive player he is today.

Freshman forward Juwan Gray is one of three freshmen on the team from the eastern seaboard, along with Nassir Barrino and Mark Carbone. Photo courtesy of USD Athletics/YouTube

Gray explained that he feels his extra year of experience will make the difference he needed to prepare him for Division-I West Coast Conference play at USD.

“My prep [school] year really helped me a lot,” Gray said. “It matured me for college basketball. It taught me the hard work and the grind it takes to be successful in this league; it did a really good job preparing me.”

According to an interview with him on the Delaware State News website, Gray  said that he felt the Scotland Performance Institute gave him a new sense of what it meant to “go hard” in his game play.

“It made me into a totally different player,” Gray said. “Before, I would just do my own thing, and I would be able to get away with that stuff. But they were on me every day. Everything I did, whether it was layups or getting water, they made sure I was doing it hard. They made it a habit for me to go hard in everything I do.”

Before he got to USD, he was looking forward to what he might achieve, he is hopeful to have the same success he’s experienced and leave something for him to be remembered by. Gray also cited Lamont Smith’s development of NBA players as a reason for attending USD.

During his time as an assistant coach at Arizona State University, Smith coached current Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden.

When Smith was at the University of Washington, he helped jumpstart the career of Orlando Magic guard C.J. Wilcox.

“The staff [at USD] develops NBA players,” Gray said. “Since they did that, they can help develop me too. They said we’re similar players, and I just want to be the next big thing for them and leave a legacy at their school.”

Now that he’s here, he sees the difference in college versus high school play. He said that he is experiencing what every freshman goes through when they get to college.

“The transition is an experience,” Gray said. “You’re in a whole new area surrounded by a whole bunch of new people. There’s a huge difference in college ball. The players are bigger, faster, and stronger, and it takes a lot more thinking.”

Gray and his family love playing basketball. His older brother, Kendall Gray, is a graduate from Delaware State University. He was recruited from the same high school as his younger brother.

Gray revealed that he misses his family and the familiarity of Delaware, yet he has found that the support of his teammates and new friends makes being so far away a little easier.

“The switch from Delaware to California has been sort of difficult,” Gray said. “Moving all the way across the country with no family and no friends is tough. But I’ve made some friends here, and it’s making things a little easier.”

The first chance to see Gray and the Toreros in action will be on Nov. 11, 2016.

The men’s basketball team will open up their season against cross-town rival the San Diego State University Aztecs at Viejas Arena on the SDSU campus.

Gray’s first appearance at the Jenny Craig Pavilion will be on Nov. 14, 2016 against the Samford University Bulldogs.

Written by Dylan Brockmeyer, Staff Writer