Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

WJG SPORTS PLAYER PROFILE PRESENTED BY WEUP ATHLETIC GROUP: The Evolution of CJ Ray

2 min read

Coming into his senior season, South Johnston standout Carel “CJ” Ray was told by everyone that he would not be able to play college basketball.

It wasn’t that the reigning 3-A Greater Neuse River Conference Player of the Year wasn’t skilled enough, but he wasn’t tall enough. Ray’s not short at all as he stands somewhere between 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-5, but the senior is known for his dazzling array of post moves. Being a post player would put him at power forward in college and at his height, the average power forward at the NCAA Division II level is 6-foot-6, according to AthleticScholarships.net.

“He’s not getting a lot of looks (from colleges) because he ain’t big enough to play in the post,” South Johnston head coach Brody Massengill said about his star player, who has led his team in scoring the last two years while going 33-5.

Ray went to work in the offseason to change his body and his game to help him get to play college basketball. Against Princeton in the first round of the South Johnston Christmas Tournament on Friday, Ray was nearly unguardable. Ray turned his body fat into muscle while losing about ten pounds, which has given him added quickness and durability. He’s also worked on his handles, which added to his postgame, allows him to get anywhere on the floor and score at will.

“That kid has put in so much work in the offseason to become that type of player,” Massengill said. “He can play inside, outside plus he makes plays defensively. You very rarely see the best player on the floor dive after loose balls and he did it three times tonight.”

Ray finished the game with 18 points. He’s averaging close to 23 points a game, along with 11 rebounds, 3.6 assists, two steals and 2.4 blocks a night. Ray is shooting 54 percent from the field, 43 percent from long range, and 74 percent from the free throw line.

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