Rudy Gay, Archbishop Spalding's blue-chip forward who had a meteoric rise from a top 100 Division I prospect to a top 10 national recruit, announced yesterday that he had chosen Connecticut over Maryland to play college basketball.
Gay narrowed a lengthy list of schools to the Huskies and Terps about a month ago.
He said his decision was influenced by the Terps' young roster - Maryland has five freshmen and four sophomores this season - and his ambition to one day go pro.
"It definitely impacted my decision, because when I get there [college], I want to play and don't want to sit behind anybody," said Gay, who orally committed to a scholarship to play for the Huskies two days ago and will sign on national signing day Nov. 12.
"They're both good academic schools, but I had to look at what is best for me basketball- wise. When I went up to UConn, I just fell in love with their system and how they play. They don't run a lot of sets.
"They run NBA sets, and in the future, I hope to play in the NBA."
Gay, 6 feet 8, 215 pounds, made two visits to Connecticut, the second one last week, an unofficial visit as a guest of Spalding teammate Jesse Brooks. Brooks, a 5-11 guard, could also end up at UConn.
Gay's father, Rudy Sr., has family in Connecticut, and his mother, Rae Lynn Gay, is from Maryland. They told their son they would support his decision regardless of which school he chose.
"My family, goes, 'Well, look man, you've got to come to UConn,' and his mom's family says, 'You've got to stay at Maryland,'" Rudy Gay Sr. said. "So, he was really split between decisions."
A large crowd of students, teachers, coaches, administrators and reporters gathered in Spalding's small gym to hear Gay announce his decision. Gay thanked those at Spalding for their support.
After last season, Gay had a growth spurt of one inch and 10 pounds and dramatically enhanced his stock this summer with a brilliant showing at the Nike showcase in Indianapolis.
"Sometimes you show up at the right place, and I think the Nike camp is where I showed up and got a lot of publicity," said Gay.
Anthony Lewis, who has been Gay's AAU coach with the Cecil- Kirk team since Gay was 12 years old, said it was a matter of his protege being able to show off his all-around game.
"The kind of personnel [top recruits] around him at the Nike camp allowed him to do things that he can't do at Spalding, where Coach [Mike] Glick runs the flex," said Lewis.
"I'm pro-Rudy and support his decision. I don't think there was a kid who anguished longer and harder over a decision."
Cavaliers coach Glick said Gay worked hard in the offseason and "is God-gifted with a natural basketball body, and it was a matter of him physically maturing."
After leading Eastern Tech to the school's first state semifinals in his sophomore year, Gay transferred to Spalding last year.
"That was one of the smartest moves we could have ever made," said his mother.
"Everyone here at Spalding has supported him in his academics and stayed on him. He's a typical boy who just turned 17."
A 2.70 grade point average and 790 SAT qualifies Gay to play NCAA Division I athletics.
Gay was named All-Metro and All-Anne Arundel County by The Sun last year after leading the No. 6 Cavaliers (26-7) in scoring (13.9), rebounds (7.1) and blocked shots (2.6).