Opportunity is one of the most surefire methods for determining how effective a player can be, both in the present day and into the future. There’s an abundance of former players who saw limited opportunities and then seized control of their fate when the timing was right. Well, that time is rapidly approaching for Elijah Gray, a skilled, versatile, 6-foot-8 forward who is absolutely brimming with upside.
Prior to the announcement of this move, next season appeared somewhat bleak for Ardrey Kell. They are set to graduate seven seniors and over 70% of their overall scoring, which is an obvious negative for any team. However, they still have noteworthy building blocks in Evan Smith and Peyton Gerald—both of which will return in key roles next season. Arguably one of the most underrated guards in his class, Smith is an excellent defender with length and the understanding of how to run a team. He’s an efficient three-level scorer with IQ, craftiness, and a nice change of pace to his game. Meanwhile, Gerald is a long, steady post player who operates as the lone interior presence for this team. He led the team in rebounds and blocked shots while scoring the ball at an effective rate around the basket. Beyond that duo, multiple role players will be in contention for the remaining rotation spots.
So, where does Gray fit within their current structure? Well, he’s actually somewhat of a perfect complement to the returning core. Not only can Gray actively toggle between the paint and perimeter, but he can also add a new dynamic to the team with his ability to initiate offense and create for himself or others. A lot of what we’ve seen to this point have been flashes, but this setting should really allow Gray to blossom. Mistakes are to be expected, as it is part of the growing process, but it’s difficult to envision a scenario where Gray isn’t extremely productive. His showing this season will directly play into his recruitment, especially since a variety of Division I programs have already gotten involved while others observe from afar. Only time will tell, but those who have bought stock in Gray over the years will see their dividends come to fruition very soon.