I got a chance to watch the full Gonzaga game Thursday night. And the Zags, for the most part, weren’t all that impressive against Santa Clara. Senior All-American candidate Matt Boldin and 6-8 freshman sensation Elias Harris both had off nights as the No. 8-ranked Bulldogs tried to mount a comeback. They trailed by as many as 13 in the second half.
They finally got it going, thanks to Steven Gray, the 6-foot-5 junor guard from Bainbridge. There are players who jump higher and have more flash to their game, but not many collegians are as well-rounded on — or off — the court as Gray. On Thursday night, he always seemed to be in the right spot, hustling for a loose ball or a rebound, or making a big shot. He hit a 3-pointer that got the Bulldogs to within one late in the game and made a simple, but beautiful cut to take an inbounds pass and score the bucket that clinched the 71-64 win. Gray finished with 19 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal. Not spectacular, yet his stats don’t tell the story.
You can tell that Gray’s enjoying himself. The former Metro League MVP, who led the Spartans to the Class 3A state title game his senior year, was all smiles after Thursday’s win. Even during heated moments of the game, he’s smiling. The demeanor, the athleticism, the engery, combined with a high basketball IQ, makes him an NBA prospect. Dime Magazine recently called him the Biggest Sleeper on the West Coast, and they might be right.
In his last five games, Gray has averaged 17.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists. He’s made 53.8 percent of his shots and 85.7 percent of his free throws. Gray had 14 points and 14 rebounds in a win at St. Mary’s during that stretch.
“He’s playing with a lot of confidence,” Bouldin said prior to the Santa Clara win. “When he looks to score and plays aggressively he’s tough. He’s definitely shown he can guard just about anybody in the country.”
The former Bainbridge star is showing that he’s one of the most complete players in the country.