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10 PITTSBURGH
Julia Morrill
November 20, 2006
Delaying his shot at the NBA, the Panthers' big man is back to take care of unfinished business
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November 20, 2006

10 Pittsburgh

Delaying his shot at the NBA, the Panthers' big man is back to take care of unfinished business

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POS. PLAYER HT. CLASS KEY STATS
SF Mike COOK* 6'4" Jr. 15.0 ppg 4.0 rpg
PF Levon KENDALL 6'10" Sr. 7.0 ppg 5.4 rpg
C Aaron GRAY 7'0" Sr. 13.9 ppg 10.5 rpg
SG Antonio GRAVES 6'3" Sr. 5.0 ppg 1.5 apg
PG Ronald RAMON 6'1" Jr. 8.0 ppg 46.3 FG%
-- KEY RESERVE--
G-F Levance FIELDS 5'10" Soph. 6.8 ppg 2.2 apg

Pittsburgh fans let out a sigh of relief on June 18, when Aaron Gray (left) made it official: He was coming back for his senior year.

While the 7-foot, 270-pound center was projected to go in the first round of the NBA draft, he felt he had more work to do in college--namely winning the Big East and getting to the Sweet 16 in March. Gray sat down with each of his teammates the week before the announcement and made sure there wasn't any confusion about his expectations. "I wanted them to know that if I came back, it wasn't to improve my draft status," says Gray, the only player in the conference to average a double double (13.9 points and 10.5 rebounds per game) last year. "It wasn't for me; it was for the team."

According to coach Jamie Dixon, Gray has always had good hands and passing skills, but he lacked stamina and shooting touch. Gray, who has shed 30 pounds over the past two years, worked on both those flaws over the summer. He lifted every morning, ran uphill sprints in the afternoon and extended his shooting range to 15 feet. Even with these improvements, Gray knows that for the Panthers to make a serious title run, he'll need some help. During those summer meeting with his teammates, Gray issued them a challenge: Raise the level of their game. "Since I made my decision, guys have stepped up," he says. "Now when we play pickup games, I feel like I'm the worst one out there."

STARTING LINEUP
COACH: Jamie Dixon (4th year)
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

RETURNING STARTER *2004--05 JUNIOR COLLEGE STATS

SCHEDULE

Nov. 12 Western Michigan*

Nov. 14 Delaware State

Nov. 17 Northeastern?

Nov. 18 Massachusetts?

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