When Blue Ridge School basketball coach Cade Lemcke gave a Twitter shout-out to Mike Gray for earning a scholarship offer from the University of Cincinnati earlier this month, he was unable to tag his point guard in the post.
Gray is a rarity these days: a high-profile recruit without social media. Lemcke referred to the Barons’ basketball star as “Twitterless Mike Gray.”
Gray and his family prefer to let his skill set do the talking.
The rising junior has racked up 11 Division I scholarship offers since he transferred from James Monroe to Blue Ridge and reclassified last year.
“Nine times out of 10, people commenting don’t know anything about the sport, so it’s like a roller coaster,” said Gray’s father, Michael “Juice” Gray. “If you’re doing good, they’ll pat you on the back. If it’s bad, they’ll stomp on you.
“A young man or woman shouldn’t get so wrapped up in that, but should just focus on their craft. Schoolwork, basketball and your real friends are what’s important.”
Cincinnati, N.C. State and Virginia Tech are three notable schools seeking Gray’s services. Old Dominion is in hot pursuit of the 6-foot-2 point guard as well.
Gray said it’s “too early” to set a timetable for an oral commitment. Lemcke said Gray’s recruitment is set to explode over the next year.
As soon as college coaches were permitted by the NCAA to contact recruits directly last month, Gray received a 12:01 a.m. telephone call from Bearcats head coach John Brannen. Coaches from Liberty, N.C. Central, N.C. State and national champion Virginia also called that first day.
Gray said he’s keeping his options open and waiting for the best fit. He said Virginia, which hasn’t offered but is showing serious interest, was already a known commodity before the Cavaliers won the national championship in April.
“I’ve always looked at them as a big-time school,” Gray said. “That [championship] just shows why they are a big-time school.”
Gray said this summer his primary focus has been becoming more of a distributor and floor general. Lemcke said Gray’s still developing into a complete point guard after being asked to score more at James Monroe.
“For someone his age, his competitive spirit and his versatility as a playmaker, scorer and facilitator puts him in a small group of prospects,” Lemcke said. “A lot of coaches out there are seeing that and they’re trying to get ahead of the game and make those relationships stronger before things really get crazy. His recruitment is really going to blow up over the next 12 months.”
Gray’s father said Old Dominion assistant coach Bryant Stith has perhaps been the most tireless recruiter on his son’s trail. The former Virginia star joined the Monarchs’ staff in 2013 after serving coaching his alma mater, Brunswick High School, for 10 years.
Juice Gray said Stith has encouraged him to do a “roll call” when he’s at AAU tournaments. He wants the Gray family to pay attention to the coaches in the stands for each one of their son’s games.
“Bryant Stith is at every single game,” Juice Gray said.
Gray averaged 21.1 points per game and earned first-team all-Region 3B honors as a sophomore at James Monroe. He transferred to Blue Ridge and reclassified to play as a sophomore again in 2018–19. He helped lead the Barons to the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II state championship.
While his scoring was down from James Monroe (to about 12 points per game), Lemcke was impressed with how Gray adapted. That continued on the AAU circuit. His father said he’s played more than 130 games in the past year between high school and AAU, culminating with a return to the Team Loaded program after a brief stint with the newly formed District WAWG.
Gray capped his summer with a trip to the NCAA College Basketball Academy July 22–25 at the University of Connecticut.
He’s taking the rest of the summer off before he goes back to school in September. He considered participating in Justin Anderson’s basketball camp upon his return to Fredericksburg last week, but decided to rest.
“I don’t want to risk burnout and I definitely kind of feel like you’re force-feeding a child in a high chair when they don’t want to eat any more,” Juice Gray said. “We just want to enjoy time as a family. His sister’s here from Norfolk State and we just want to have time to be around one another.”
Gray will have plenty of time to dive back into hoops. He’s anticipating taking another step forward in his career. Lemcke noted that he’s surrounded by 10 other future college players at Blue Ridge and he’s learned how to be effective without dominating.
“His leadership qualities, his ability to facilitate, inspire, and motivate teammates can really shine through when he doesn’t have to get 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists a game,” Lemcke said. “It’s more like a college environment. He’s able to be a big piece to our success, but he doesn’t have to do it all.”
Taft Coghill Jr: 540/374-5526 firstname.lastname@example.org