Will lure of LSU win out for Gray

What it may boil down to for junior college scoring champion Josh Gray will be the pursuit of a goal over a life-long objective.
Four months after signing with LSU where he's expected to bring an infusion to the team' offense for the 2014-15 season Gray - who spent the past season at Odessa (Texas) Junior College - may be faced with an even greater decision.
With Gray soaring to unexpected heights as the nation's leader in scoring among junior college players - averaging 34.7 points - the path of the 6-foot-1 native of Lake Charles to Baton Rouge could be altered.
Gray, a first team Junior College All-American, said he's entertaining the thought of leaping straight from the junior college ranks to the professional level, but only if deems the opportunity worthy.
"I love LSU and everybody that knows me knows that," Gray said. "I canceled a visit to Louisville to sign with LSU and I turned down a lot of schools to go to LSU. That was my dream school.
"The NBA is my goal and that's where I want to end up," Gray said. "That's what I've given up years of my life for. If the opportunity is there, and it's a good opportunity, how can you tell me not go if I'm going to get drafted. That's something we'll go over with as a family. If it's too great then we'll take it. If it's not I'm going to come to school."
Searches of several NBA mock drafts don't have Gray's name attached as of yet but he remains steadfast in taking a methodical approach before ruling anything out.
"It's an option I've been talking with my family about and will continue to talk over and see who's coming out, who's going back to school," Gray said. "We have to do our research before I put something out. It's an opportunity if I wanted to I could."
Gray was the final piece to LSU coach Johnny Jones' recruiting puzzle, closing out a well-rounded class of four signees to go along with transfer Keith Hornsby.
LSU added 7-foot center Elbert Robinson, 6-9 forward Aaron Epps and 6-foot guard Jalyn Patterson to go along with Gray, who previously signed at Mississippi State and Texas Tech along his basketball odyssey.
"I see a lot of potential next year," Gray said. "However Coach uses me next year, it doesn't matter. If he wants me to distribute the ball all game or score, I can do either. What I bring to the table's going to turn the team to a whole different level. I just want to be a leader and I know I can make those guys better. Everyone will see next year."
The complete make-up of next year's LSU team is hard to disclose.
With the conclusion of the season in an 80-67 second round loss Monday in the NIT, the Tigers must now await impending decisions whether junior Johnny O'Bryant III and freshman Jordan Mickey will return or opt for the NBA draft.
Fellow freshman Jarell Martin said before the team departed for its NIT opener against San Francisco he planned to be back for his sophomore season.
LSU expects to have senior Anthony Hickey and sophomore Tim Quarterman in its backcourt and be bolstered by the arrival of Gray, who can play either the point or shooting guard, and Patterson.
"He's one of the more talented players I've ever coached," Odessa coach Tra Arnold said of Gray. "He has a lot of talent and works very hard. I still think his best basketball's ahead of him as he goes forward. He'll continue to understand the game a little better."
Not even Arnold expected the gaudy numbers Gray was able to put up for a team that finished 22-7 but wasn't able to qualify for the national junior college tournament.
"We didn't expect him to be that prolific of a scorer but I think he managed expectations," Arnold said. "We thought he would be a good player for us and he was. I felt he did a good job at times getting others involved and I think he'll grow as he learns the game a little better."
Gray started in all 29 of his team's games and poured in an astounding 1,006 points, earning first team honors in the Western Junior College Athletic Association.
Gray was extremely efficient from the field, making 46 percent of his shots (361 of 786), dipped a bit from 3-point range (30.3 percent), made 71 percent from the free throw line, averaged nearly six assists, 3.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists - leading his team in assists and steals.
"I knew there were a lot of expectations on me coming in because people wanted to see what type of player I was because they heard a lot about me," Gray said. "I had to put up numbers like that with those expectations. I left Texas Tech because of a decision my family made. It wasn't due to my talent level. I had to put up numbers like that and I'm blessed."
Gray started to display his uncanny knack for scoring in the first month of Odessa's season with a career-high 63 points in a game against El Centro College.
"I couldn't miss that game," Gray said. "Everything was dropping and I had a great game. I started off attacking the rim. I worked hard, trained my body for that and performed well. It's not shocking when you perform well like that but it may be shocking to others who had never seen anything like that. That's what I'm used to."
Gray went on to score 30 or more points 15 times with another 60-point explosion against Ranger Junior College followed by a memorable triple-double - 59 points, 11 rebounds, 14 assists - in a 148-81 win over University of Southwest on Nov. 19.
Gray had five 40-point games and seven 30-point scoring outings, helping him to solidify his status as the nation's top junior college scorer.
"It's an honor to accomplish that goal, but I'm still a true point guard that can run a team and get my teammates the ball and make them better," Gray said. "I will show that at LSU."
With his team eliminated from national tournament contention Gray finally made his official visit to LSU for the team's final home game against Georgia earlier this month.
While the outcome - a 69-61 defeat - wasn't to his liking Gray raved about the visit and how he looked forward to playing at LSU with his new teammates.
"It was unbelievable," Gray said. "Every time I come to LSU I love it. I love the coaching staff and players. It felt so regular because I've been around the campus before. Next year is going to be crazy. I'm so excited because the potential's sky high."