Gray cements spot in Walk of Fame
Published 8:24 pm Wednesday, September 14, 2011
They called him Gunsmoke, and after leading the conference in scoring his junior and senior years it’s easy to figure out how former Washington basketball star Mark Gray got that nickname.
Gray, a 6-1 shooting/guard slash small forward was named the Pam Pack MVP in the 1973 and ’74 seasons, as well as all-conference and all-district.
Tonight, Gray can add another achievement to his list as he will be inducted into the Washington Walk of Fame during halftime of the Pam Pack football game against Jacksonville.
Joining Gray will be Marquin Hill, Evelyn Ewing and the 1951-52 boys basketball team.
“I’m honored to be chosen,” Gray said. “Playing basketball at Washington is a whole experience that I’m very fond of and proud of. It was a very important experience that taught me a lot.”
As a junior, Gray averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds a game. As a senior, Gray had more freedom to score and pushed his points per game average up to 20. Gray had a 42-point outburst to set a new school mark, but it would be one that was broken by Pam Pack legend Dominique Wilkins.
Equipped with a deadly jumper, Gray shot with both barrels blazing on a nightly basis, leading to the nickname Gunsmoke.
“I think I got it from David Duckett. He was a classmate and the team statistician,” Gray said. “It meant that I like to shoot, but I think it also meant that I was a good shooter. It’s a class of ’74 thing, a lot of folks still call me that.”
Gray embraced the nickname and also embraced his leadership role with the Pam Pack.
“When I was a junior I had to do a lot of rebounding … we had a big team but they were young and inexperienced,” Gray said. “As a senior, my job was to score and that was a fun job to have. I was like the designated shooter … I got to take a lot of last-second shots. It was a worthwhile experience.”
During his senior season, Gray helped the Pam Pack get to the state semifinals, but said what he remembers most is the comaradie amongst his teammates.
“I really enjoyed playing with the guys and the bus rides with David Duckett,” Gray said.
Gray, who went on to graduate from East Carolina University and get his law degree from UNC, was fortunate enough to play for legendary coach Dave Smith his first year with the Pam Pack.
“The first year we weren’t very good but we were very competitive. We practiced in weighted vests, so we were very scrappy and competitive,” Gray said. “He was a very smart man. He was a tough coach but very fair. I have a lot of respect for him as a coach and an educator.”