PGE Turow Zgorzelek's sharpshooting point guard, Mr. Justin Gray.

From the moment Justin Gray stepped on campus at Wake Forest, folks have recognized that the man can flat out ball. After pairing with Chris Paul in what’s hailed as one of the ACC’s all-time backcourts, it was J-Gray who earned All-Conference honors. The last few years he’s been putting in work in Belgium with Verviers, the Czech Republic with Nymburk and now PGE Turow Zgorzelek of Poland and the Eurocup.  The one constant everywhere he’s been: a ball off of his fingertips usually finds the bottom of the net. This season, “The Gray Area” will touch on his life in Europe, the daily grind, and of course, hoops. Without any further ado, I give you Mr. Justin Gray…

Click here to follow Justin Gray on Twitter.

11/1/09 - On the road again

What’s up everyone? I’m checking in from the road this time. We are on the road for two games in five days. Just finished the first game tonight here in Inowroclaw, Poland and we played ISS Sportino. We started off the road trip well with a good win by 15pts.

Gray dropped 20 in a win against ISS Sportino.I know that personally, I like playing away games because you get a chance to show yourself to another team’s crowd. It’s always a good sign when the other team is cheering for something you did. At one point in the game I came down and hit back to back 3’s but the second trey must’ve been from deep because after it went in, Sportino’s crowd just all started clapping for me. Well, at least I’d like to think it was for me haha! I finished the game with 20 points and 4 assists, so now we just need to keep this momentum going into the next game. Getting both of these wins on the road would be huge for us because the road trips are long as heck. This is a “short trip” as my Polish teammates would say; it’s 7 1/2 hours LOL! I don’t consider that short at all but hey, it’s all part of the job! I’ll check in with you guys later, and until then BE BLESSED!!!

Scroll down for earlier Gray Areas.

10/27/09 - Close encounters of the third country’s local cuisine

Not Justin's cup of tea, apparently.What”s up people!! As you can tell, I’m doing a little better. I guess that’s because we got a solid win yesterday vs. Poznan (Editor’s Note: Gray had 18 in the win). Yeah, we needed to get back on the winning track and it’s always good to be at home playing in front of fans that are cheering for you and not against you! Now we have the day off, and I don’t really know what to do with the day to be honest. I’m going so see if some of my teammates want to go and do something. The town I’m in is pretty small and it seems like I’ve already eaten at every restaurant in my 2 months here…that’s the life when you’re here by yourself.

I started off cooking everyday for lunch and dinner, then slowly but surely I stopped doing that. Now I just hit up a resturant with one of my teammates.  I always try food that is well know in the country I’m in and here (Poland) everyone had told me to try pierogies. I’ve had them a couple of times now and I’ve figured something out: I’m not a fan…at all. LOL…For you people that don’t know what it is, it’s like a dumpling that they can fill with all sorts of stuff. Oh, and did I mention that it’s boiled? I tried it anyways and the first bite I was like “OH NO, not for me at all!!!” Sorry if you’re reading this and you’re from Poland. Don’t get me wrong though, there are some great restaurants here. Well I’m heading out to see what’s going on in Zgorzelec, Poland today and I’ll check in later! BE BLESSED!

Scroll down for earlier Gray Areas.

10/22/09: Drums, horns, and Freaknick’s jinx

What’s up people, I’m checking back in! I wish it were on better terms though, as we took an L on the road last night against Trefl Sopot, and it was a tough one.  We were leading the entire game until the 4th quarter, and then we had some shots not go in and some calls not go our way.  But anyone knows when you’re playing on the road in Europe it’s tough just because the atmosphere is so much different than NBA games. The environment compares to the games I used to play in the ACC against Duke, or going to NC State for the last game of the regular season with 1st place on the line (Which, by the way, happened and we won too. Sorry Wolfpack fans! LOL). But really, the fans here are always into the game no matter what.  Even if their team is losing they are always blowing them horns or beating them drums LOL… it’s cool though…I love it.

J-Gray scored 18 in the loss Trefl Sopot.I’m not satisfied with my performance at all, even though I had decent numbers (18pts, 4ast, 4reb, 3stl), it’s not about stats for me. All I want is the WIN at the end of the day. When we lose, the first thing I do is look at myself and see what I could’ve done for us to win. I know I missed 2 free throws last game and I was pissed! (Editor’s note: Sorry Justin, I guess I jinxed you). But that happens; you miss some and you make some, but now I have to make at least 10 in a row.

In the Polish League the road games are just as important as the home games.  We only play each other 2 times (home/away) So I figured the more teams you sweep the better position you’ll be when it’s time for the playoffs. Another thing about playing on the road is that the road trips are CRAZY! I was told that our shortest trip was like 5 or 6 hours, I mean I wasn’t prepared for those kinds of trips with no flights, but that’s all a part of the grind. This trip was one of the longest ones: 10 1/2 hours. We got home and the sun was already coming up. It takes me that long sometimes to get back home to North Carolina! Anyways today I’m headed back to the gym around noon to get in the cold tub and then the hot tub to recover from the game and travel… Then getting ready to go to back to work. Until next time BE BLESSED!

Scroll down for earlier Gray Areas.

10/15/09: Whistles, Waffles, and Wake Forest

Freaknick: Anyone who knows college hoops knows you tore it up in your freshman year at Wake Forest (12.7 points per game, selected to the ACC All-Freshman team). You averaged 14 per game with Verviers-Pepinster in your first year in the Belgian league and dropped 18 points in 24 minutes in your debut with PGE Turow Zgorzelek. You’re no stranger to hot starts.  I bet you probably liked being “the new kid” in school too, am I right?

After leaving the high school basketball factory Oak Hill, J-Gray made an instant impact at Wake Forest.

Justin Gray: I’ve always played with a chip on my shoulder. I was always told when I was younger that I wasn’t fast enough or didn’t jump high enough, but when it came to playing I could put the ball in the basket and my teams always did well. I was taught always to be the aggressor when I was playing so whether it’s my first game or last game in the league, I’m in attack mode. But it’s different in Europe because here, I’m the guy or the American is the guy, so we have to perform night in and out. There’s just that target on your back but I embrace that. I think it just makes me play that much better, but that’s just ME!! As far as being the new guy on the block, it just means they don’t know what to expect from me, but I have big expectations for myself.

FN: Fourth year in Europe.  Third country. Would you rather munch on Belgian waffles, knock back a bottle of Czech Becherovka, or dive into a plateful of Polish pierogis?

Gray, last year playing for Nymburk in the Czech Republic.

JG: I’m going to have to go with the Belgian waffles. I stayed in the center of Verviers and there was this guy who sold waffles all the time at a little shop. All my teammates and I would stop by to see him on the regular, and my favorite one was with warm apples in the middle…they didn’t even need sryup, they were just right! As far as Czech goes, there were a ton of good resturants in Prague, which is probably the best city I’ve been too in all of Europe. Good food, nice people, tons of things to see, not to mention the nightlife!

FN: Last year without you, PGE Turow lost to Daniel Ewing and Asseco Prokom in the Polish finals.  If it comes down to Wake Forest Demon Deacon vs. Duke Blue Devil again this year, who comes out on top in the battle of ACC guards?

JG: First of all, the goal from the beginning is to again be in that situation playing in the finals against anyone. And if it comes down to us playing them then of course D-Ewing and I would be matched up against each other. We have both played in big games and it’ll just be fun to compete because that’s what I want to do: play against someone who is competing all the time….But for the recored I did split with Ewing in college, I think we won on each other’s home courts every year we played. So we’ll see how it goes when we see them this year, I know their team is stacked but I’ll have my troops ready!

FN: In your time in Europe, have you had a teammate that could stick with Eric Williams in an eating competition?

Drink up, Big E.

JG: Haha, I’m going to tell him you said that too! But to be honest, he really didn’t eat that much.  I do remember one road trip in college-I believe we were playing at FSU-we were at breakfast and Big E asked the lady for some apple juice. So she brings out a pitcher for the table. Then he asks for a straw, tell me why he sticks his straw in the pitcher and kills it! I was like, dang bruh! So I haven’t found anyone who could kill a drink like him (non-alcoholic drinks, that is).

FN: Don’t want to jinx it, but you were perfect from the charity stripe last year in Nymburk and you’re off to a 6 for 6 start in Poland. Why didn’t anyone tell me they moved the free throw line closer over there?

JG: So now you put the pressure on me? But nah, I’ve always been a pretty good free throw shooter and for me it’s all about rhythm. In college we shot so many free throws it’s crazy, and even to this day I shoot before and after practice. Every time I’m at the line, I try to block everyone out like I’m just practice shooting. But there are some things I had to get used to here shooting free throws, like the crowds. Normally in America, your home fans get quiet for you. That’s not the case here; they are singing songs, chanting, blowing horns, whistling…I mean everything except being quiet. But to be honest, I’ve gotten so used to it now that if they did get quiet, it might be weird!

But I’m glad that I’m going to be keeping this blog just so I can give people my view of things here in Europe. Also, it will be nice to give people a chance to keep up with my professional career because I always get the “Man, I looked you up but I can’t read the website!!” LOL. Well, this is going to be me telling you about things first hand with the help of my man Nick.  I’ll be trying to send some pics and videos of things on and off the court, so until next time be BLESSED!

Read about it, Tweet about it. 

2 Replies

  1. IT is great to hear from you Justin. As a big Wake Forest fan it is always cool to hear from some of the WF greats. Im glad you are fitting in over in Europe and im sure the basket is looking as big as it used to here at the Joel. Keep draining those 3’s.

  2. Justin,

    We miss you here in Charlotte and Winston! Your blog entries about big Wake wins bring back many fond memories…keep tearing it up, JG, and keep us updated (and one more thing: we could use some of those classic treys you liked to drain in big ACC matchups…any way you can share some tips with the current crop of Deacs?)!

    - siff

Leave a Reply

©2009 Euroleague Adventures