Drake University is that excited about its latest college basketball pick-up, the Bulldog’s twitter account tweeted ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’ as soon as it had confirmation a certain 202 centimetre forward would be theirs for the next four years.
That Aussie is Orange Eagles phenom Matt Gray.
Gray, 18, has locked down a division one scholarship to the school located in Des Moines, Iowa, and will play with the Bulldogs in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 competition in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Private planes, all expenses paid … it’s a pretty plum gig for the Canobolas Rural Technology High School star.
But there was one slight hiccup along the way.
“I had to choose between Drake and South Dakota. I loved both places. But I chose Drake because there’s a new staff there and they’re in a great conference,” Gray explains.
“I rang Drake to let them know and then tried South Dakota but couldn’t get a hold of them.
“Then the tweet was sent … I hadn’t got a hold of South Dakota yet and then they saw the tweet. I thought ‘oh no’,” Gray laughed.
“All’s well now, though.
“I’m ecstatic and nervous … I can’t wait.”
Gray’s division one scholarship covers schooling – at this stage he’s planning on studying sport science – living and basketball expenses over the next four years.
He’ll head over to Iowa, a state in America’s mid west, in May for some summer league training before his first college basketball season commences in August.
The season runs until March, with Drake playing other institutions across America.
“Des Moines is a city of 600,000 people, so I’ll head over and get accustomed to playing and living,” Gray said.
He’ll be one of seven first-year guys in the Drake system in 2018-19, which essentially means Gray and his new teammates have the next four years to develop into a college basketball force.
Such a youthful core was another reason Gray chose to play with Drake.
“There’s one other player from Australia, a kid from New Zealand from next year, too, 15 (players) in the program all up,” he added.
I'm ecstatic and nervous ... I can't wait.College basketball-bound Matt Gray
The division one basketball system has 32 different conferences, with the Missouri Valley Conference Drake plays in ranked in the NCAA’s top 10.
Gray played last year with the Bathurst Goldminers while he juggled his final year of high school throughout 2017.