Kendall Gray shows off pro skills back home

 

Kendall Gray. a former Polytech and Delaware State University player, now is on the Long Island Nets. (File photo)

NEWARK — For most of Kendall Gray’s life, he’s been playing basketball in Delaware.

This week though, he played his first game as a professional in his home state.

The 25-year-old Gray is now a center on the Long Island Nets of the NBA’s G League — a minor league affiliate of the Brooklyn Nets. The former Polytech High and Delaware State University standout had played the last two years professionally in Europe.

Gray and the Long Island Nets were at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark to take on the Delaware 87ers on Friday night. Gray, who has battled injuries the last couple of years, was thankful for the chance to perform in front of friends and family.

“It’s a blessing,” Gray said after the game. “I don’t take basketball for granted anymore. These past couple of years have been rough on me coming out of college. Just to be out here on the court again, healthy, it’s a blessing.”

Gray ended his career at Delaware State as one of the most decorated athletes in school history. He won the MidEastern Athletic Conference’s Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards as a senior, but went undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Gray had a stint in the NBA’s Summer League in 2015 before signing with Medi Bayreuth in Germany. His last team in Europe was MKS Dabrowa Gornicza who plays in the first division of Poland.

Gray returned stateside in early 2017 to rehab an injury and was out of basketball for seven months before he heard from the Brooklyn Nets.

The Nets were one of the teams who were most interested in Gray during workouts for the 2015 draft. They offered him a tryout prior to the start of the 2017 season.

“They gave me an opportunity to come in and work out with the Brooklyn Nets,” Gray said. “They liked what they saw and said they’ll work with me in the G League and see where it goes from there.”

The G League has been around as a developmental league for the NBA since 2001 but was rebranded as the G League in 2017 after a partnership with Gatorade.

Most players have recently left college though the league does have its fair share of veteran players. For instance, in the second half on Friday, Gray was guarding Emeka Ofakor, the 2005 NBA Rookie of the Year who now plays for the 87ers.

“It’s a great platform for people to perform and for NBA guys and people from overseas to scout you,” Gray said. “It’s a great place to showcase your skills.”

Gray has appeared in 23 games this season for Long Island and is averaging 4.6 points a game and 4.5 rebounds per contest.

Gray came off the bench on Friday and saw 16 minutes of action. He went a perfect 4-of-4 from the floor for eight points, grabbed four rebounds and recorded a pair of steals.

Long Island ended up winning the game 112-110 on a buzzer-beater by former Seton Hall University star Isaiah Whitehead.

“Oh man, it was amazing,” Gray said. “The atmosphere is crazy. I’m just happy to be here and playing again to be honest.”

 

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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