10 PITTSBURGH

Delaying his shot at the NBA, the Panthers' big man is back to take care of unfinished business
November 20, 2006

Pittsburgh fanslet out a sigh of relief on June 18, when Aaron Gray (left) made it official:He was coming back for his senior year.

While the7-foot, 270-pound center was projected to go in the first round of the NBAdraft, he felt he had more work to do in college--namely winning the Big Eastand getting to the Sweet 16 in March. Gray sat down with each of his teammatesthe week before the announcement and made sure there wasn't any confusion abouthis expectations. "I wanted them to know that if I came back, it wasn't toimprove my draft status," says Gray, the only player in the conference toaverage a double double (13.9 points and 10.5 rebounds per game) last year."It wasn't for me; it was for the team."

According tocoach Jamie Dixon, Gray has always had good hands and passing skills, but helacked stamina and shooting touch. Gray, who has shed 30 pounds over the pasttwo years, worked on both those flaws over the summer. He lifted every morning,ran uphill sprints in the afternoon and extended his shooting range to 15 feet.Even with these improvements, Gray knows that for the Panthers to make aserious title run, he'll need some help. During those summer meeting with histeammates, Gray issued them a challenge: Raise the level of their game."Since I made my decision, guys have stepped up," he says. "Nowwhen we play pickup games, I feel like I'm the worst one out there."

STARTINGLINEUP
COACH: Jamie Dixon (4th year)


POS. PLAYER HT. CLASS KEY STATS
SF Mike COOK* 6'4" Jr. 15.0 ppg 4.0 rpg
PF Levon KENDALL 6'10" Sr. 7.0 ppg 5.4 rpg
C Aaron GRAY 7'0" Sr. 13.9 ppg 10.5 rpg
SG Antonio GRAVES 6'3" Sr. 5.0 ppg 1.5 apg
PG Ronald RAMON 6'1" Jr. 8.0 ppg 46.3 FG%
--KEY RESERVE--
G-F Levance FIELDS 5'10" Soph. 6.8 ppg 2.2 apg

RETURNINGSTARTER *2004--05 JUNIOR COLLEGE STATS

SCHEDULE

Nov. 12 WesternMichigan*

Nov. 14 DelawareState

Nov. 17Northeastern†

Nov. 18Massachusetts†

Nov. 19Oakland†

Nov. 24 FloridaState†

Nov. 29 RobertMorris

Dec. 3 atAuburn

Dec. 6Duquesne

Dec. 9 atBuffalo

Dec. 16 atWisconsin

Dec. 21 OklahomaSt.‡

Dec. 23Dayton

Dec. 30 FloridaA&M

Jan. 4 atSyracuse

Jan. 7 USF

Jan. 10 atDePaul

Jan. 13Georgetown

Jan. 16Connecticut

Jan. 21Marquette

Jan. 24 atCincinnati

Jan. 27 St.John's

Jan. 29 atVillanova

Feb. 7 at WestVirginia

Feb. 10Providence

Feb. 12Louisville

Feb. 17Washington

Feb. 19 at SetonHall

Feb. 24 atGeorgetown

Feb. 27 WestVirginia

March 3 atMarquette

*Maggie DixonClassic, West Point, N.Y. †Colonial Classic, Pittsburgh ‡All-College Classic,Oklahoma City

ILLUSTRATION PHOTOSEAN BRADY/WIREIMAGE.COM

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