Chaz Raye has spent most of his Providence Day basketball career as a role player, often setting up former all-state teammates like Bryon Fields (now playing football at Duke) and Jordan Watkins (Davidson basketball), and current Charger junior forward Grant Williams.
While the 5-foot-10, 150-pound senior hasn’t always made the big plays, he has played a critical role as Providence Day’s starting point guard for the last three-and-a-half years.
Providence Day basketball coach Brian Field admits there have been times where he’s “taken Chaz for granted because he’s not the guy who is going to drop 30 points,” but he describes Raye with one word: “Consistent.”
“Chaz comes to practice every night ready to work hard and make his teammates better,” Field said. “I seriously cannot remember a single practice or game over the last 3 1/2 years where I had to get on Chaz about his effort or attitude. Ever. He is really positive with his teammates and he is all about winning.
“Over the last few years, he has made so many plays or hit a shot at a key point of a close game that changed the momentum and got us the win.”
Raye, who was been a part of 72 Providence Day victories and counting in his career, says he has always been all about winning.
“I’ve never been the type of player who worried about how many points I scored,” said Raye, who earned the starting role as a freshman when Fields broke his thumb. “My main goal has always been to win games. The ultimate goal is to win a state championship and so that is what we are playing for.”
While Raye, 17, isn’t focused on his numbers, this year has been his best to date statistically, averaging a career-best 8.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.5 steals per game.
Raye has had several big games for the Chargers (11-4, ranked No. 7 in the state by MaxPreps.com) with his best game (18 points, four assists and three steals) coming in a 64-60 win over Dillard (Fla.) High in the Hoodies’ House Tournament on Dec. 27 at Ardrey Kell.
Raye was 5-of-6 from three-point range in that game. He also hit the free throws that secured the win over Dillard, but, in his typical fashion, he was most proud of his defensive effort.
“My favorite part of that game was helping to shut down their point guard (Michael Green), who was averaging 19 points a game coming in and I think he only got four points in that game,” he said. “I think that is really what helped us win that game.”
Much of Raye’s impact for the Chargers comes in his ability to take care of the ball. He averages just about one turnover per game this season and for his career.
“To make so few mistakes at the (fast) pace that we play is a rare talent,” Field said.
Raye says he enjoys “running the show,” for a balanced Providence Day offense, juggling the responsibility of getting the ball to the right players at the right time.
Raye has a bevy of weapons in the Charger offense: junior forwards Grant Williams (15.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg), Joshua Howard (13.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and Isaac Johnson (7.7 ppg), and senior Matthew Lee (5 ppg), sophomore Julius Felder and freshman Trey Wertz (5.5 ppg) in the backcourt.
“The thing that makes this team so good is that we are really tight on and off the court,” Raye said. “We motivate each other every day, because we are always talking junk. I want to go out and prove that I am better my teammates in every practice and even in every drill. I think that brings the best in all of us.”
After going 48-7 in the two previous seasons, with back-to-back trips to the NCISAA 3A state quarterfinals, the Providence Day boys believe they can go all the way this year.
Field says he believes they have laid the groundwork for success early on this season, with all four losses coming to teams ranked high in their respective states (according to MaxPreps.com): High Point Wesleyan Christian (No. 1 in North Carolina), Huntington Prep (No. 1 in W.Va.), St. James (No. 8 in Md.) and Greensboro Day (No. 6 in N.C.).
Providence Day also has big wins over traditional powers like Arden Christ School, Hough (4A public) and Raleigh Ravenscroft.
Raye, who has a 3.73 grade-point average, wants to follow his older brother, former Butler High standout Craig Raye Jr. (Maryville College), in playing college basketball.
Field says several schools are interested in Chaz right now, including Queens University of Charlotte, Hampden-Sydney (Va.) and Roanoke (Va.) College.
As usual, Raye is thinking about team first.
“Right now, we are trying to go as hard as we can every day, whether it is a practice or a game, to get ready for the state tournament,” Raye said. “When you are a senior and it’s your last chance you have to treat every day like it’s your last. I want to help make sure this team reaches its full potential.”