The James Monroe boys basketball team is losing its leading scorer of the past two years.
Shooting guard Michael Gray is transferring to Blue Ridge School, a private school in St. George, his father said.
The 6-foot-1 shooting guard averaged 21.1 points per game last season. He was named first-team all-Battlefield District and all-Region 3B. He received second-team All-Area honors.
Gray is reclassifying so he’ll remain a sophomore next season at Blue Ridge.
“It definitely was a tough call,” said his father Michael “Juice” Gray. “His friends are [at JM]. His high school coach that gave him his first opportunity is still there. He’s been going to school with his classmates since Hugh Mercer [Elementary] and going to the Boys & Girls Club with the majority of them. It was a little bit of a pull but he knows sometimes you’ve got to do things to better yourself.”
James Monroe assistant coach Tony Lewis is a graduate of Blue Ridge after beginning his high school career with the Yellow Jackets. He went on to play basketball for Loyola (Md.) University.
Gray’s uncles, Joe Posey and Chris Johnson, also went the private school route after starting out at King George and Washington & Lee, respectively. Posey went on to James Madison University and Johnson was a starter for Louisiana State and has had professional stints in the NBA and overseas.
“Enjoy the process and take it slow is what they told us,” Juice Gray said of his brothers’ advice. “The main thing Joe said was that the private school route would offer up a good education. But also when it comes to competition he’ll have the opportunity to play against some good schools.”
Juice Gray, a former Colonial Beach star, said his son holds a scholarship offer from Hampton University. He said his son has also been contacted by Pittsburgh, Oklahoma State and Georgetown.
James Monroe coach Carlos Evans said Gray’s scoring will be missed but his team will press forward. Rising sophomore point guard Ricky Goode-Wright is now the leading returning scorer.
“Honestly I don’t know,” Evans said of the effect of Gray’s departure. “He’s a good kid. He works hard. He’s done a lot in two years for us with his scoring. He’s a great scorer. But we just have a team mentality. So I treat it no different than a senior leaving. I’m excited about this group that we have. If he’s gone, we’re just moving forward.”
ROBINSON MOVING ON
Gray isn’t the only area hoops standout taking his talents elsewhere. Kendrick Robinson has transferred from Fredericksburg Christian School to Trinity Episcopal School in Richmond.
Robinson, a 6-foot-4 rising junior, averaged 10 points and 10 rebounds per game for the Eagles his first two seasons. The two-year starter at FCS is joining a Trinity program which features 6-foot-10 power forward Armando Bacot, who is one of the top 2019 recruits in the nation.
Robinson is also expected to join the track and field team at Trinity. This past spring to cap FCS’ inaugural track season, he earned all-state honors in the 200 meters, 400 and high jump. He was a member of the 1,600 relay team that won the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II state title.
GETTING THEIR KICKS
Five boys and three girls from the area will participate in the Virginia High School Coaches Association all-star game June 29-30 at Lynchburg College.
Nico Vega (Chancellor), Cole Lipinski (King George), Johnathan Owens (Massaponax), Chris Escobar (Chancellor) and Alex Maready (Courtland) will be a part of the Blue team which features players from Virginia High School League regions B and D. Chancellor’s Mike Webb will serve as one of the coaches.
On the girls side, Audra Curtin (Colonial Forge), Kassie Demps (Courtland) and Erin Flamm (Courtland) will play for the Red team.
RECRUITS KEEP PUSHING
North Stafford star running back Devyn Ford and Louisa linebacker Brandon Smith orally committed to Penn State in May but they haven’t slowed down this summer. They’re in Atlanta until Friday competing in the Rivals Five-Star Challenge to secure a prestigious five-star ranking from the recruiting service. They’ll then fly to Houston to compete in Nike’s The Opening to showcase their skills against other top national recruits.
HASKINS GETS OFFER
Mountain View rising senior football standout Tyler Haskins recently picked up a scholarship offer from Davidson College. It’s the first offer for Haskins, a 6-foot, 170-pound quarterback.