High School Sports

The hero of the most exciting game of NCAA Tournament Day 1? He’s from North Carolina

Houston guard Rob Gray talks to an official during the second half of an NCAA men's college basketball tournament first-round game against San Diego State Thursday, March 15, 2018, in Wichita, Kan. Houston won 67-65. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Houston guard Rob Gray talks to an official during the second half of an NCAA men's college basketball tournament first-round game against San Diego State Thursday, March 15, 2018, in Wichita, Kan. Houston won 67-65. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) AP

Rob Gray, the hero of perhaps the most thrilling game of the first day of the NCAA Tournament, is a N.C. native.

Gray is a 6-foot-1 redshirt senior from Forest City, N.C., about an hour from uptown Charlotte.

Gray played at East Rutherford High as a sophomore, when he averaged 22.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists. He played his junior season at Arden’s Christ School, where he helped lead the Greenies to a 32-5 record and averaged 11.3 points.

Gray ultimately graduated from West Oaks (Fla.) Academy in 2013.

The NCAA Tournament is upon us, but the madness of March goes beyond the court. The amount of money the TV industry, its advertisers and fans spend on the tournament are pretty crazy too.

At Houston, he turned into a star, averaging 20.6 points per game as a junior and 18.5 this season, including a memorable Thursday night performance on national TV. Houston beat San Diego State 67-65. Gray had a career-high 39 points and a career-high eight rebounds as Houston, in the tournament for the first time since 2010, won its first NCAA Tournament game in more than 30 years.

Gray has scored at least 30 points six times this season and has frequently been the Cougars’ “closer,” the guy the team goes to for points in the final minutes. He was awful good Thursday, making a 3-pointer and then a contested scoop layup in the final seconds.

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