He’s settled into life at Iowa’s Drake University well and his Bulldogs are travelling beautifully with five wins from their opening six games, but together with head coach Darian DeVries Orange’s Matt Gray explained he’s looking long term.
As a freshman with four years of eligibility, Gray admitted he’s had a few knee troubles and in a bid to ensure he doesn’t waste one of those years and develops as much as possible, he revealed he’ll “redshirt” for all of 2018-19.
For those playing at home that essentially means the 18-year-old big man will practice and travel with the team, but won’t take the court in games.
“It is a long-term decision I made because I want to be a great player,” Gray said, speaking just before his side knocked off North Dakota State 95-88.
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“With this being my first year in the program I would be playing behind older, more-experienced guys … so coach and I saw it would be more beneficial to not waste a year of eligibility.
“I know I’ll be a much better player when I’m 21, 22 … this way I can learn from the others and take this year to develop and get stronger.”
Gray’s focus will continue to be training. As a National Collegiate Athletic Association division one outfit, the Bulldogs do plenty of that too.
They did before the season started too, with Gray giving a unique insight into how hard he and his fellow players work.
“All through October we had official practices, up to six days a week for three hours at a time,” he said, prior to that the squad was allowed just four hours of court time a week under NCAA rules.
“A typical day of practice begins with watching film of our previous practice or games, stretching and warm-up, player development then reviewing and learning plays. Then we’d practice for up to two hours and finish with more player development.
“Now the season’s begun trainings are shorter and are more about sharpening up, correcting and preparing for the next game.
“I lift and work out more individually with the staff, developing my game while preparing the team on the scout team, running the next opposing team’s plays.”