Former Polytech hoop standout Gray to play at U. of San Diego

Juwan Gray helped guide Polytech to the state title game his senior season while making the All-State second team in 2015. (Delaware State News file photo)

Juwan Gray helped guide Polytech to the state title game his senior season while making the All-State second team in 2015. (Delaware State News file photo)

A year ago, Juwan Gray decided on the prep school route.

Now, a completely transformed Gray is choosing to spend the next four years in sunny San Diego.

Gray signed a full scholarship with the University of San Diego’s men’s basketball program on Wednesday. The former Polytech High standout spent this past year at Scotland Performance Institute in Chambersburg, Pa.

“It made me into a totally different player,” Gray said of his experience at SPI. “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.”

Gray helped guide Polytech to the state title game his senior season while making the All-State second team in 2015.

He also had offers from Hofstra, Miami (Ohio), Cal State Bakersfield, Tennessee Tech, Akron and St. Peter’s.

Gray joins a San Diego team that finished 10th in the competitive West Coast Conference a year ago. Next year with the Toreros he’ll be playing in conference games against NCAA tournament mainstays like Gonzaga, Brigham Young University and St. Mary’s.

Gray said he’s looking forward to seeing how he fares against that type of competition.

“It’s like you’re playing against pros every night,” Gray said. “If I can compete against them, then I can succeed at the next level.”

Gray is one of the first recruits for new San Diego coach Lamont Smith. As an assistant at Arizona State, Smith helped develop current Houston Rockets star James Harden.

Another coach at San Diego, assistant Russell Springmann, coached Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder while at Texas.

“The staff (at San Diego) 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.”

Gray, a 6-foot-8 wing, used the extra year at SPI to round out his game under coach Jareem Dowling.

“They gave me more detail in my game,” Gray said. “Coach Dowling made everything so basic for me, whatever I used to make complicated before, he changed that. They saw the potential in me.”

Gray is following in the footsteps of his older brother Kendall who also played Division I basketball. Kendall Gray, another Polytech product, graduated from Delaware State University last year where he won the MidEastern Athletic Conference Player of the Year award.

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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