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Foster, Gray give GU word

J.D. Larson Correspondent

Steven Gray, a 6-foot-3 junior guard from Bainbridge, and Will Foster, a 7-3 senior center from White River, both verbally committed to Gonzaga University during summer camps held by the men’s basketball coaching staff.

Gray, who just transferred from 2A Chimacum, averaged 27 points, eight rebounds and four assists as a sophomore for the sixth-place Cowboys.

“He can score and his shot is probably one of the best I’ve seen at the high school level,” Bainbridge head coach Scott Orness said Tuesday. “He sees the floor really well. He needs to improve on his foot speed and strength. He’s young – he just turned 16, and he needs to become a little stronger with the ball.”

Gray crept onto the national scene after scoring 53 points in a game as a freshman and earning 2A player of the year honors in his second varsity season.

“Listening to the coaches, it reminds them of how Blake Stepp used to play,” Orness said. “He can be a strong point guard.”

The early decision by Gray has allowed him to relax, Orness said. He just returned from the Adidas camp in Atlanta, and playing in a big-time camp like that might have unleashed a lot of attention on Gray.

“I’ve only known him for about a month and a half,” Orness said. “He’s a pretty soft-spoken gentleman, with my understanding being that he really doesn’t like the limelight that much. That’s one of the benefits to committing early. He doesn’t have to deal with the whole recruiting deal, and the pressure that comes with the attention. All he wants to do is really play basketball.”

Gray had received letters from UCLA, Washington and Washington State, as well as a handful of other schools.

Foster, a likely “project,” is a legitimate 7-3 and may not be done growing, according to White River head coach Troy Tornow.

“I have no idea if he’ll stop growing,” Tornow said. “He never has.”

Foster, who averaged 5.5 points a game and seven rebounds while starting every game for the Hornets, was 6-8 at the end of his freshman year when he moved into White River’s district, and has steadily grown since then. He was 7-1 during last season, putting on 2 inches in four months.

He’ll probably redshirt, but he doesn’t meet the typical definition of a project: The big, uncoordinated guy with no feel for the game.

“He’s not a bad athlete for his size,” Tornow said. “He runs the floor really well and he’s got a beautiful jump hook with either hand.”

Foster attended GU’s camp after his sophomore year, initially drawing attention from the coaching staff, and returned this season with more aggressiveness.

“They saw the potential in him and thought they could make something out of him,” Tornow said.

“He actually has decent instincts for the game, but growing so big has brought so many expectations,” he added. “His confidence has been really low until about a month ago. He’s still growing into himself mentally.”

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