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Marte Grays: MLK standout had late start

Grays attempts shot against Crete-Moneee. She scored 25 points against the Warriors in King’s 52-50 victory. CHUCK JOHNSON, DPS PHOTO

Grays attempts shot against Crete-Moneee. She scored 25 points against the Warriors in King’s 52-50 victory.
CHUCK JOHNSON, DPS PHOTO

By Harry M. Anderson, Jr.
Special to the Michigan Citizen

Marte Grays of Martin Luther King High School is an outstanding and promising athlete.  Playing on the girls’ varsity since her freshman year, Grays made the starting rotation in her sophomore year for the Crusaders. Playing at the forward and center spots on the court, her performances are one of the reasons the Crusaders’ girls’ basketball squad is 11-1 so far this year.

Against King’s top main contenders for the PSL title, Grays showed her value to the team. In a recent game against Renaissance, Grays fired in 18 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and made five steals in the Crusaders’ 63-42 rout of the Phoenix. On Jan. 12 against Cass Tech, against whom the Crusaders played last season’s championship game, Grays scored 19 points, 10 in the first quarter, as the Crusaders routed the Lady Technicians, 58-36.

But that’s not all. Against Chicago’s Crete Monee; one of the top-ranked teams in Illinois, Grays led King in scoring with 25 points to pull out a heart-stopping 52-50 victory at the PSL Holiday Hoops Classic at Cass Tech on Dec. 28. She also scored an impressive 22 points in a 69-17 defeat of Pershing on Jan. 10.

With these statistics and performances, one might think Grays has been dribbling a basketball since she was in diapers. However, the Crusaders’ star player was never interested in basketball and knew very little about the game until she was in eighth grade.

“I wasn’t interested in basketball when I was a little girl,” Grays said in a recent post-game interview. “I played because of my friends who were interested.”

After transferring from Hutchins Middle School to McMichael, the now six-foot-two-inch Grays says she made the team because of her height.

“It wasn’t my performance that kept me on the team, it was my height. After the season was over I liked the game. Coach (William) Whitfield saw me play during one of my games. He saw something in me and encouraged me to play Amateur Athletic Union basketball.”

Grays enrolled at King and made the varsity squad under head coach Whitfield in her freshman year of high school. She didn’t start her first year, but was very observant while she was on the bench. “I watched and learned,” she said. “I loved what I saw.”

Grays kept playing AAU ball during the summer months to better her skills. Now a senior, Grays signed a national letter of intent this past October to play for and attend DePaul University in Chicago, where former fellow Crusader Antania Hayes, last year’s Miss PSL Basketball, matriculates.

“DePaul watched me since I was playing AAU in ninth grade,” she said.  “They liked what they saw in me. While I’m playing basketball at DePaul, I want to study community forensics.

“Attending King High was a joy because I learned a lot on and off the court. Playing for the Crusaders was, and still is, fun. My advice for all our young people: Just keep striving. I wasn’t in the game when I was younger, but I kept working hard. Stay with your ambitions because dreams can come true.”

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