Spalding's Gay develops into elite recruit

Posted by Michael Glick on Jul 24 2003 at 05:00PM PDT
By CRAIG ANDERSON Staff Writer July 25, 2003 Rave reviews are pouring in as 16-year-old Rudy Gay plays through the summer circuit for high school basketball stars. Fresh off a sparkling performance at last week's Nike All-American Camp in Indianapolis, Archbishop Spalding's 6-foot-8, 212-pound rising senior is considered one of the elite young talents in the United States. had the East Baltimore native ranked as the No. 4 prospect in the nation this week. Depending on who you read, he's somewhere in the top 10 at least. College coaches and talent evaluators love Gay's long, athletic body, which is filling out thanks to focused work in the weight room. He's starting to show eye-catching perimeter skills after playing close to the basket in his younger years. So what's next for the Baltimore native? Rumors and possible scenarios abound as his final year of high school approaches. Gay isn't tipping his hand, so the speculation heads a variety of ways. These days, college basketball fans can get their fill of offseason news and innuendo through various Internet-based recruiting services. He could commit to Maryland next month, following former prep teammate and 7-foot center Will Bowers to College Park. He's regarded as the Terrapins' No. 1 target and coach Gary Williams has been a regular at summer events. "Rudy is the next great player from the area, and he's Maryland's primary recruit," said Keith Cavanaugh, publisher of Terrapin Times, a magazine devoted to covering Maryland athletics. "It's unusual for Gary to be at so many games for one player, so that says a lot about his interest." The second strong choice appears to be Connecticut, boosted by coach Jim Calhoun's strong in-school visit last spring and a tradition of developing talented wing players like Richard Hamilton and Ray Allen into NBA stars. Then there's defending national champion Syracuse, which has its own local connection of sorts. Baltimore's Carmelo Anthony was the main man for the Orangemen last year, and grew up on the same basketball courts. "I've played against Carmelo a couple times," Gay said. "He's a cool guy. I know him, he knows me, but it's not like we're good friends or anything." Given time for more development, Gay could reach the same lofty heights. He's a great mix of still-blossoming talent and skills already tested by the best prospects around. "He's the real deal, the complete package," Cavanaugh said. "Rudy is a world class athlete, and is probably a better runner and jumper than Carmelo. "Carmelo's advantage is in his strength and savvy. He knows what to do with the ball better, but Rudy is quickly closing the gap. He's only 16 and that's the great thing about him. "Rudy is good enough that in a year or two he can be in the league (NBA)." A fourth possibility is Villanova, which has former Spalding point guard Derrick Snowden on its roster. Less than a week ago, coaches from North Carolina, Louisville, Arizona and Florida called prep coach Mike Glick to express interest in the sweepstakes. Gay has played it so coy when asked about his future plans that even his high school mentor isn't sure what will happen. "At this point I couldn't tell you if Rudy is leaning one way or another," Glick said. "He's had a lot of nice possibilities thrown his way and is taking his time to make the best choice. I'd like to see him decide sooner rather than later so he has his first choice of schools." Gay discounts the rumors that he'll play his senior year at prestigious Oak Hill (Va.) Academy, known for turning out top-flight collegiate prospects annually. Coach Steve Smith made several appearances during his Ban The Brick summer league games in Washington, D.C., but is still just an outsider in the race for the budding superstar. "I like where I'm at (Spalding)," Gay said. "I don't think there's much chance of that (transferring to Oak Hill) happening." Glick is glad to hear his star is still enjoying his stay in Anne Arundel County. The Cavaliers will be loaded next season, led by 6-5 small forward Lawrence Dixon and 6-2 point guard Justin Castleberry. Both are juniors and made the all-star game at the recent Eastern Invitational that's a notch below the Nike camp. Senior center Jason Loughry, 6-11, and guard Jesse Brooks also figure to draw collegiate interest, and 6-4 sophomore varsity newcomer Johanna Jones is a prospect to watch. "I know that Rudy enjoys being a student at Spalding very much," Glick said. "He wants to go to the prom and he wants to stay a part of the student body. His reasons for coming here were to play with talented teammates in his right position and face a national-scale schedule. "He's been able to do all that and has fit in very well with the school's community." Gay's summer season continues later this month in Orlando, Fla., playing with his Cecil Kirk squad in the AAU national championships.


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