DraftExpressProfile: Aaron Gray, Stats, Comparisons, and Outlook
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Aaron Gray
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@teamziller IMO, not any worse than Brendan Haywood, Josh Boone, Zaza Pachulia, Aaron Gray, Jeff Foster, Erick Dampier, Magloire,etc etc can
2010-04-03 23:14:01
Top 25s - Full List
RankCategoryTotal
18PER29.7
19EFF/4027.2
12WS/4014.6
15Reb/g9.5
5Reb/40p14
7Reb/4013.4
18ORB/g3.3
12ORB/40p4.9
22ORB/404.7
5ORB120
Team: Raptors College Team: Pittsburgh
PhysicalsPositionsRankings SalaryMisc
H: 7' 1"
W: 280 lbs
Bday: 12/07/1984
(30 Years Old)
Current: C
NBA:   C
Possible: C
RSCI: 165
Agent: Andy Miller
High School: Emmaus
Hometown: Emmaus, PA
Drafted:  Pick 49 in 2007 by Bulls
Best Case: Erick Dampier
Worst Case: Rafael Araujo

Predraft Measurements
YearSourceHeight w/o ShoesHeight w/shoesWeightWingspanStanding ReachBody FatNo Step VertMax Vert
2007NBA Pre-Draft Camp7' 0"7' 1.75"2717' 3.25"9' 0.5"15.027.032.5
2006NBA Pre-Draft Camp7' 0"7' 1"2807' 3"9' 1"15.026.530.5

Basic Per Game Statistics - Comprehensive Stats - Statistical Top 25s

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Orlando Pre-Draft Camp: Final Recap
June 4, 2007
Aaron Gray put together three solid performances at the pre-draft camp in Orlando to earn himself a spot on our first team. Though he produced each day, he didn’t really do much to help his stock greatly at the camp here despite his performance, as he was already firmly on the first round bubble without too much room to move back up. While it is important to remember that Aaron Gray will have limitations in the NBA, he has a great chance at carving out a long career as a rotation big man at the next level, particularly if he continues to shed weight the way he has nicely over the past two months.

Most of Gray’s points came from within 8 feet of the basket in Orlando, and this trend will likely follow him to the next level. The former Pittsburgh center displayed good mobility in the low block this week, and used a combination of hook shots and lay-ups mixed in with the occasional turn-around jumper to score all of his points. Though Gray was able to get these shots on nearly anybody, he struggled with his touch inside at times, sometimes just throwing the ball near the basket with the hope that it would find its way in.

In the drills, though, Gray showed off a pretty nice shooting touch all the way out to the NBA 3-point line. This didn’t translate to the actual games, at one point even passing up a wide open look from 18 feet out that he clearly should have taken.

The physical limitations of Gray were also displayed this week in Orlando, and were especially apparent on the defensive end of the floor. The 7-footer lacks the speed to get up and down the floor quickly, and will be much better off in a half-court oriented system in the NBA. Gray lacks the reaction time to be an active defensive player, and at times will stand flat-footed on the ground as a rebound sails by him in his area. He isn’t afraid to use his body against players down on the block, but this can only take you so far in the NBA.

Aaron Gray displayed a good skill-level this week in Orlando while showing that he will likely be a fixture in the NBA for the next 8-10 years. He could find himself in the late first round, and a team looking for a future rotation guy could find great value if Gray remains on the board in the second round.
[Read Full Article]
 
Orlando Pre-Draft Camp: Day Three
June 1, 2007
Aaron Gray had yet another solid performance here today, following up on his good performance yesterday, and he’s thus far succeeded in not hurting his stock here at the camp, though not really improving it much either. Gray got all his scores coming off post-ups and pick-and-rolls, getting to the basket and hitting a lay-up or going to the line, or by settling for a turnaround jumper from about five feet away from the basket. Gray scored his first basket of the game off a pick-and-roll, rolling to the basket and drawing the foul while laying the ball in the basket for an and-1. He went to the basket on a pick-and-roll three more times during the game, missing on two lay-up attempts where he seemed to just throw the ball in the general direction of the basket, and drawing a foul on his other attempt. Gray occasionally goes to the hoop and doesn’t really seem to focus on making a high-percentage shot attempt, rather just putting the ball up and hoping for the best, though at times he does seem to focus a bit better, which he did on a few occasions here, showing good hoop awareness at times, especially on his turnaround jumper. Gray had two very nice back-to-the-basket plays on the game, one coming on a turnaround jumper off the glass from five feet out, and the other coming on a fake spin one way into a spin back the other, where he laid the ball perfectly in the basket after spending just a second with his eye on the hoop, showing good awareness of where he was with the ball.

Defensively, Gray had some trouble, playing suspect man-to-man defense, especially on the perimeter, not getting out close on his man on a few occasions, leaving him open for wide open mid-range shots. Gray also got scored over in the post on a hook shot by Ali Traore, and struggled on one pick-and-roll defense, not having the quickness to effectively hedge on the ball-handler and get back to his man, so he cheated a bit by not making much of a hedge, leaving the ball-handler a wide open lane to the basket. Gray also got rebounded over by players with superior athleticism on a play or two, something that may be a problem for him even with his great size.
[Read Full Article]
 
Orlando Pre-Draft Camp: Day Two
May 30, 2007
Although certainly not a spectacular performance, Aaron Gray had a very nice start to his NBA pre-draft camp effort. Gray was a reliable presence inside the paint for his team all game along, running the pick and roll effectively and making basic catches and finishes right at the hoop. He didn’t create a ton of offense for himself inside the post with astounding footwork, but he did get the job done while also hitting the offensive glass thanks to his big body and improved quickness stemming from the significant weight he’s lost.

Even though he had a solid game, certainly compared to some of the other performances seen today, Gray could have done even more to help his cause. He looked very earthbound getting caught flat-footed failing to go after a couple of rebounds that were well within his area, and blew a very easy finish in transition by not converting on a dunk. When presented with the wide open 18 foot jump-shot, he tentatively passed it up, despite having looked excellent in the morning drills knocking down jump-shots all the way out to the NBA 3-point line.
[Read Full Article]
 
Orlando Pre-Draft Camp: Day One
May 30, 2007
The first thing that stands out about Gray is his improved physique. Gray is much closer to obtaining his ideal playing shape, a testament to the work he’s been putting into his draft preparation.

Unfortunately for Gray, the pre-draft camp doesn’t cater to his strengths as a half-court player who is best when being fed in the post. The first day of scrimmages proved this point out as Gray didn’t act as much more than an observer. He’ll have to be more vocal if he wants to command the attention of his teammates to the point of having an impact.
[Read Full Article]
 
NCAA Tournament: Stock Watch (Sweet 16, Thursday games)--Down/Neutral
March 23, 2007
Aaron Gray had a pretty poor showing to finish off his college career, scoring only 10 points in Pittsburgh’s Sweet Sixteen loss to UCLA. Gray exhibited many of his limitations that have some of his doubters believe will keep him from ever getting past Rafael Araujo status in the NBA. Gray has some very obvious and beneficial strengths, notably his size, his arsenal of fundamental post moves, and his excellent passing ability out of the post. The problem for Gray is that some of his weaknesses, such as his lack of athleticism, his inconsistent touch around the basket, his inconsistent motor, and his lack of physicality, may render his excellent post arsenal useless, because his size alone isn’t going to be enough to overcome these weaknesses at the next level, as it has many times for him in the NCAA.

Gray had some good plays on the offensive end in this game, though some of them were easy lay-ups around the basket that didn’t require much more than him being in position. He showed off a nice drop-step move and a nice up-and-under on two separate occasions, though he wasn’t able to convert on the drop-step. The rest of Gray’s offensive highlights came in the passing game, where he kicked the ball out of the post very well and also did a good job passing from the high to low post and hitting cutters out of the low post. He made a good handful of impressive passes in the game, but only one was converted to credit him for the assist.

Gray didn’t have a stellar game on the defensive end, often getting picked on in pick-and-roll and high screen scenarios, which he should expect a lot more of in the NBA. His post defense wasn’t much better, as he doesn’t seem to try to use his size to his advantage, often just letting defenders back him down at will. Gray gets in good position and keeps his hands up in the post, but with a player of his size, you’d like to see some more physicality, as opposed to being pushed around by Lorenzo Mata. Gray had two blocks in the game, one in man-to-man defense on the perimeter and the other against a cutter under the basket. Gray’s not much of a shot-blocker, though, as evidenced by his 1.7 per game on the season. Oftentimes he’s slow to rotate over and the team seems to lack any intimidation factor in the middle on defense. On the boards, Gray occasionally seems to stand back and watch, when he should be putting his monster, seven-foot body to work right amidst all the action.

Gray currently projects as a potential first rounder in the upcoming draft, and he’s not the type of player you’d expect to be a workout warrior. There are many doubts surrounding the style of Gray’s game and how it will translate to the NBA, though he could do himself well to continue working on his touch around the basket, and to start playing with a more relentless motor and with more physicality around the basket on both ends of the court. Gray may have to attend the Orlando pre-draft camp at the end of May, which would be a good opportunity for him to put to rest some of the doubts surrounding his game.
[Read Full Article]
 
NCAA Tournament: Stock Watch (round of 32, Saturday)--Down/Neutral
March 18, 2007
After some less than stellar performances of late, Gray came back with solid numbers in Pitt’s thrilling overtime win against VCU. Despite playing just 26 minutes due to a few periods of foul trouble, the Panther’s big man was able to put up very solid numbers thanks to his efficient and alert play down low.

Gray didn’t blow anyone away with his scoring, hitting right on his average for the season, but he was very efficient going 6-8 from the field. He hit most often on his go to move on the block, his baby hook shot, but also mixed in a turnaround jumper, and a few thunderous dunks. Gray also did a great job not giving up on plays in his typical fashion, earning a couple of trips to the foul line by following his own shots and getting fouled on the put back attempts. The only area in the game where Gray did surprise was his passing. He got more touches in this game than he normally does, and therefore more than doubled his assist average by recording 5 in a great effort setting up teammates. Gray recognized when and where VCU double teams were coming from and was able to dish to teammates on the perimeter as well as hit teammates a few times cutting through the lane.

Defensively, Gray accomplished plenty simply by stepping on the court. The majority of VCU’s shots were jumpers from outside the paint, with the Rams not wanting to take the risk of going against Gray and Pitt’s other front court players. Just for good measure though, Gray had a big block on a lay up attempt from Eric Maynor.

Gray did well to come back with a solid performance in this game after a couple of poor performances, but he didn’t dominate VCU’s severely undersized post players like he should have. With a potential match up now looming against UCLA in the Sweet 16, Gray has a chance to make a real statement with a good showing against a team with a much stronger frontcourt.
[Read Full Article]
 
NBA Draft Stock Watch: Conference Tournament Week (Part One)
March 12, 2007
On the opposite end of Roy Hibbert’s outstanding performance in the Big East Championship game was the player he thoroughly dominated—Aaron Gray. After a lackluster performance in the semi-finals, scoring 8 points and not pulling down a single rebound in 13 foul-plagued minutes, Gray followed up that game with an even worse showing in the finals, squandering an opportunity to help his already sinking draft stock against one of the few legit NBA center prospects he’s matched up with this season.

It wasn’t so much his 1-13 shooting from the field that hurt him as much as his extremely poor body language throughout the game. Gray looked defeated almost from the outset, getting outhustled on the glass, looking slow and conscious defending the pick and roll, going up soft finishing at the basket, missing easy shots (something we’ve seen many times the past) and giving up position in the paint way too easy to the much more active Hibbert. He clearly understood the ramifications on his performance early in the game and just did not have the mental toughness to recover from his poor start, complaining the refs incessantly and hanging his head when things didn’t go his way.

One game in a long season hardly determines a player’s draft stock in the grand scheme of things, but scouts couldn’t have liked what they saw from Gray in such an important setting both from an individual matchup perspective as well as his team’s. While watching this game, it was hard not thinking of the absolute clinic Patrick O’Bryant put on him in last year’s NCAA tournament, where he gave up 28 points in an upset loss to Bradley in the 2nd round. It was an eerily similar performance, but thankfully for Gray, he still has this year’s tournament to help make people forget. A huge matchup with Duke and Josh McRoberts now looms in the second round of the tournament this year, if Pitt and Duke can find a way to get through the first round.
[Read Full Article]
 
Marquee Matchup: Spencer Hawes vs. Aaron Gray
February 25, 2007
Senior center Aaron Gray burst onto the scene last season as one of the nation’s most surprising players. He went from averaging a meager 4.3 points and 2.8 rebounds as a sophomore to 13.9 points and 10.5 rebounds as a junior. After entering the NBA Draft last season and realizing that he still had quite a ways to go after a lackluster workout in Orlando, as well as wanting to enjoy his final season of college basketball and potentially make a run to the final four, he decided to return to Pitt for his senior season.

The biggest asset that Gray brings to the table as a prospect is easily his massive size, and ability to eat up space inside. He is able to obtain excellent position in the low post, often allowing him to literally just turn at shoot right at the rim. He is a bear for opposing defenders to defend if they are trying to front or three quarter front him, which you can ask Spencer Hawes about after this past game. The massive center just makes things incredibly easy for teammates to get him on the low blocks with his excellent position and soft hands.

Once he receives the ball in the post, Aaron uses his soft touch to generally score off of drop step moves or right handed jump hooks. He will also often go to a turnaround jumper to either shoulder, which he has shown no problem hitting consistently out to around 8 feet away from the basket. Aside from that however, the Emmaus, PA native does the majority of his scoring off of his ability to coral offensive rebounds. He is one of those rare players who actually box out on the offensive end, and often finds the ball just falling into his paws where he is able to score from 5 feet and in.

The aforementioned rebounding ability would have to be what most consider the strongest strait in the Pitt senior’s game. While he is not incredibly explosive, he does a fantastic job of boxing out and going to get the ball once it comes off the rim. He does this on both the offensive and defensive end of the floor, which has allowed him to become one of the nation’s most consistent rebounders in one of the nation’s strongest conferences, the Big East.

On the defensive end, Aaron does a pretty decent job of using heady play to make up for his lack of explosive leaping ability and lateral quickness, making him a pretty solid defender on in the low post. He will never block five shots a game or make opponents think twice the way Greg Oden or Sean Williams will, but does an excellent job of using his body to force opposing big mean to catch the ball at least 8 feet away when they post up. He has pretty nice timing and completely utilizes his length and bulk to it’s fullest, allowing him to be a pretty decent shot blocker at the collegiate level.

Many question how Gray will be able to defend quicker, face the basket players in the NBA. He struggled guarding Spencer Hawes when Hawes took him out to the perimeter, so what will he do if forced to guard big men with an explosive first step such as Amare Stoudemire or Chris Bosh, who both play center for long stretches of time for their respective teams. Aaron will surely need to improve his body even more in pre-draft training so he is able to improve his quickness enough to where he can at least be a formidable defender outside of 10 feet from the basket.

While we are on the subject of weaknesses, Gray’s limited shooting ability will surely hinder him once pre-draft workouts roll around in the eyes of scouts, considering that he does not have the most polished post moves in the book. His shooting ability currently extends to 10-12 feet maximum, and that is a bit unacceptable for the NBA nowadays with so many teams running pick and pop sets. Aaron’s lack of left hand could also be a concern, as he seemingly relies on his size a bit too much, which he will not be able to do when matched up against athletic marvels just as big as himself on a nightly basis in the NBA.

As it stands, Spencer Hawes is currently sitting ahead of Aaron Gray on the large majority, if not all of the NBA teams’ draft boards. Hawes should find himself picked somewhere in the lottery, if he does decide to come out this year. Gray on the other hand, has greatly improved his draft stock since his early entrant last year. We currently have him pegged as a mid first round pick, but he surely has the potential to rise into the late lottery with a strong NCAA tournament and pre-draft workouts.
[Read Full Article]
 
NCAA Weekly Performers-- 1/2/2007, Part One
January 3, 2007
Having taken a calculated risk to return for his senior season, it’s been imperative for Aaron Gray to not only show considerable improvement in his conditioning, but also his leadership and all-around skill level. So far Gray is passing that test with near-flying colors, looking in much better shape than he was last year and beginning to expand his game and look like a legit and very willing go-to option in the post for arguably the best team in the Big East.

Against Oklahoma State last week, Gray came through for his team when they needed him, scoring the majority of his 24 points (one off a career high) in the 2nd half and overtime periods. Once a player who got winded just running up and down the court a few times, let alone shouldering considerable responsibilities of all facets of the game for his team like he is now, Gray has slimmed down considerably and is now looking both more agile and energized even when asked to play for extended periods. He still has even more room to improve in this area, especially when you look at the lackluster way he shot free throws late in the overtime contest against the Cowboys, but the progress he made over the summer is certainly encouraging.

One place where Gray’s newfound proportions have helped him out is in his touch and feel around the post. Whereas last year he would shock every so often by playing ping-pong with himself and repeatedly missing gimmees from 2-feet out after a cut or offensive rebound, Gray is now converting his point-blank shots around the basket at a much higher rate. He will still make you scratch your head sometimes with an unexpected miss, but just not as often.

Gray’s post game has evolved to the point where he looks extremely comfortable operating aggressively with his back to the basket. He uses his length to execute pretty spin moves to either shoulder before finishing skillfully with a reverse layup for example, something you wouldn’t see too often out of him last year. As you would expect, the good old fundamentally sound jump-hook is in his arsenal still and is a constant staple of his game. His basic post footwork could still stand to be cleaned up a bit, but he is obviously making progress and showing that he still has room to grow being the late-bloomer he is.

Much as we’ve seen in the past, when double-teams inevitably come in the post, Gray is doing a fantastic job of being patient and finding the open man cutting to the basket or spotting up on the wing. He is a very smart and unselfish player, and having such a steady and reliable 7-foot senior to throw the ball to and facilitate the offense from time to time is a luxury that few coaches in America can boast besides Jamie Dixon.

One of the more intriguing developments we’ve seen from Gray is in his mid-range game. Last year he showed flashes of a perimeter jumper from time to time, but these instances were few and far between. Gray shot the ball extremely well against Oklahoma State. Give Pitt coach Jamie Dixon credit, as he is now putting his senior in position to leave the post occasionally and show off a skill that will help his NBA draft stock considerably.

In terms of weaknesses, it’s very hard to get around the fact that he’s just not a very athletic player, despite the weight loss. He doesn’t get off the ground vertically too well, and he’s still very slow to move his feet defensively or go out of his area for a rebound. There are legit question marks about whether he’s a man amongst boys at the NCAA level as a 7-footer with the great strength he possesses, and it’s not entirely clear how well his post game will translate to NBA competition. He’s probably caught somewhere in between being a marginal starter in the league and a very solid backup depending on where he lands. The thing is, the NBA isn’t doing any favors for him whatsoever with the direction it’s currently heading in—away from the old-school traditional back to the basket center and towards shorter and more athletic big men who can hedge screens, get out in the open court , find gaps in the defense and outquick and outhustle the competition. Regardless, there is a place in the league for a player like Aaron Gray. He—like most players at the end of the day-- just needs to find the right situation.
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Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big East (Part One: #1-#5)
November 6, 2006
At 7’0 and 260 pounds, Aaron Gray certainly has the size one would want out of an NBA center. He is below average athletically, not having much leaping ability, lateral quickness, or explosiveness, but he definitely possesses enough coordination and fluidity for a player his size to have success in the league. Gray’s game is still developing, as he only saw significant minutes for the first time this past year, but he delivered well in his 28 minutes per game, to the tune of 13.9 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game.

Offensively, Gray has a versatile post game with a good foundation of skills. His go-to move is definitely the right-handed hook shot, but he also has shown the ability to hit the turnaround jumper from seven to eight feet and occasionally a drop-step. He can spin either way with his back to the basket, and has shown flashes of using both hands to put up lay-ups, but his results with his left are inconsistent.

Gray has a lot of good moves in the post, but his game could use a little fine tuning, as he doesn’t always use them as well as he could. He needs to become both more decisive and deliberate with his moves. At times he takes too long to get into his motions, giving weak-side guards ample time to come over and double team him. Yet at the same time, once he goes into his motion, he has a tendency to rush his shot, sometimes seemingly just throwing it in the direction of the rim rather than actually aiming it. Because of this tendency, sometimes it will look as if Gray doesn’t have much touch around the rim at all, and others it will look like he has great touch.

Gray does a good job at establishing position on the low block without the ball, and really makes defenders pay when they front him. He doesn’t use his body much to his advantage when he gets the ball with his back to the basket, relying on mostly finesse, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Opposing teams don’t always have a player with capable size to defend him, though, and he’s shown signs of trouble when matched up with players who project as NBA centers, such as Bradley’s Patrick O’Bryant in the NCAA Tournament.

Gray has shown flashes of a spot-up jumper with range out to 15 feet, but he rarely goes outside of eight to 10 feet, where still he is not yet incredibly efficient. This is something he should definitely work on improving, as while it’s questionable how his post game will translate to the NBA, being able to shoot a 15-foot jumper at 7’0 most certainly will translate.

Gray also shows flashes of nice vision and passing out of the post, though he logged 2.7 turnovers per game to his 1.8 assists, having troubles with footwork in the post and handling double-teams in general. He does show the ability to see the floor and make strong kick-out passes to the perimeter, though.

Gray may not show much tenacity with his finesse-oriented post game, but he looks like a different man when one of his teammates puts a shot in the air, always working relentlessly to attack the offensive boards. He establishes good position down low to take advantage of his size in this aspect of the game, and when he’s out of position, he’ll fight to get around his man without fouling too often. Just as in his post game, though, he has a tendency to rush his shots once he gets a hand on the ball, and it happens in this area very frequently. He needs to really work on his accuracy with his put-back attempts. He also does a good job running the floor as a trailer to attack the offensive glass on missed transition lay-ups.

Defensively, Gray is equally effective with his rebounding, establishing good position and effectively boxing out his man most of the time. Gray also is a pretty aware defender, always paying attention to the entire offense and understanding where he needs to be on the floor. He is mobile enough to make all of the rotations, though he doesn’t have much prowess as a weakside shot-blocker. As a man-to-man defender, Gray does well in the post, effectively using his body to force his man into difficult shots, while not using his hands much to avoid fouls. He also does a good job using his length to prevent entry passes by reaching in front of his man while still establishing dominant position. Gray will have some problems in the NBA against perimeter-oriented centers, though, not possessing great lateral quickness and preferring to defend down low.

Gray is now a senior, thus he will be in the draft come the end of the season. He briefly tested the waters last season, but didn’t participate in either of the pre-draft camps, and there were question marks about whether he’d definitely land in the first round. Gray certainly has a lot of room to improve, and one would expect he will in this, just his second season in a starting role. If he improves his mid-range jumper as well as his conditioning and becomes quicker and more deliberate with his post moves, he should probably be a first-round pick this season. It will be tough to crack the lottery, given the class’s expected tremendous depth, but it is not out of the question if he makes the right strides in his game.
[Read Full Article]
 
NCAA Tournament: NBA Draft Stock Watch (round of 32, Sunday games)
March 20, 2006
In a very telling matchup with previously unknown mid-major draft prospect Patrick O’Bryant, Aaron Gray came out the loser both on the scoreboard as well as in the individual showdown, and not by a small margin.

Gray was frustrated almost the entire game by O’Bryant’s superior length and athleticism, being too slow to react to his quick moves in the post and committing a number of foolish fouls that completely took him out of the game mentally. At one point in the 2nd half he was rightfully called for a five second violation after taking what seemed like an hour to do anything after receiving the ball with his back to the basket. Gray completely lost his composure immediately after the call and slammed the ball to the ground violently letting it bounce high above his head as the referee signaled for a technical foul, his 3rd of the game at a very critical juncture for Pitt.

O’Bryant went on to score a career high 28 points, slithering his way for many of his points around the plodding Gray who looked too slow, out of shape and uncoordinated to do anything to stop him. Offensively Gray managed to establish deep position on a number of occasions, but not nearly as much as we’ve become accustomed to watching him play in the Big East. His poor touch around the rim that we’ve seen all season came to play again at times, causing him to miss from point-blank range rather than just going up and dunking the ball strong.

Gray is a much better basketball player than he showed in this game for those who hadn’t seen him before, but dedicating a full summer to getting his body in perfect shape to make up for his lack of athleticism will be needed before he is ready to show off his skills in front of NBA GMs in private workouts. He could very well still declare for the draft this year, but will have a tougher time finding a spot at the end of the 1st round after finishing his season in such a disappointing way.
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NCAA Tournament: Oakland Bracket NBA Draft Prospects
March 16, 2006
Rebounding, Rebounding, Rebounding. The success and subsequent value of such dedicated and tireless workers as Ben Wallace and Reggie Evans in the NBA has teams always on the lookout for guys who pound the glass with reckless abandon. One of the country's most improved players, Gray has shown a fire and a flair for rebounding almost unparalleled on the college level.

Gray had games of 17 and 20 rebounds this year, and his zeal for bruising play, interior defense and, yes, rebounding has him on the NBA short list. Some of that excitement for a guy whose offense consists mostly of putbacks, dunks, short jumpers and excellent passing ability is based on his rapid improvement. If he can continue to develop, especially on his conditioning, footwork and touch around the basket (a huge reason why he grabs so many offensive rebounds to begin with), Gray can become something special. Quickness and an explosive vertical leap will never be his forte, but at his size there are few players in this NCAA tournament who can keep him away from the basket when he has his mind set on it.

For Pitt in this year's tournament, he already is something special. Critical to the punishing style favored by Coach Jamie Dixon, Gray is equally crucial to the Panthers' tournament hopes. Somewhat disappointing early exits the last few years have left Pitt's players with a bad taste in their mouths. Some outstanding work in the paint from Gray could be a big difference in this season's edition, not to mention what it could do for Mr. Gray's NBA draft future.
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