KINGSBURG - Playing basketball is very important for recent Kingsburg High School graduate and Fresno Pacific-bound guard Jeremy Ray.
In fact you could say it is one of the most important things in his life.
"… ball is life," Ray said.
This past season, Ray put his name in the Vikings record books. He broke a school record for the most three pointers made in a single season at 108. The previous record was 97, which was accomplished by Maurice Bishop during the 2005-06 season. That year, Kingsburg competed for a CIF Central Section title .
Ray broke Bishop’s record without playing in the postseason. Breaking the three-point record without a playoff game is an accomplishment for Ray but he wished he had an opportunity to play in the postseason during his senior season.
“It’s still disappointing that we didn’t get to the playoffs my senior year,” Ray said. “I wish we would’ve had a chance to make a run.”
Breaking that record was something he strived for before the start of the 2017-18 season and he did it with countless hours working on his three-point shooting. Ray said he practices shooting three-pointers every day and makes at least 200 of them each time.
“I’m practicing in the gym or mostly outside…,” Ray said. "Last year I made 25,000 threes all summer.”
He counts in his head to keep track of the number of points he shoots for each day.
It helps that math is his favorite subject. Ray was the class of 2018 valedictorian at Kingsburg High and graduated with a 4.07 GPA.
He plans to major in business finance at Fresno Pacific.
The incoming Sunbird had two goals before his senior season began — breaking the single-season three-point record and making the most threes in a game. The school record for most three pointers in a game for Kingsburg is nine. The closest he came from breaking that record was when he made eight three-pointers against Golden West in the Vikings’ season opener on Nov. 21, 2017. He scored 28 points on 8-of-13 shooting (62 percent) in three-point field goal attempts.
During the week of the City/County basketball games last month, Ray came home each night after practicing with the East team in Kerman and started shooting threes outside his house.
“He came home and immediately grabbed the ball and started shooting,” his father, Doug Ray, said. “I said to [my wife], Liz, ‘I don’t think he made all his shots in practice, he needs to tune up a little bit.’ So he went out after practice and shot [his threes].”
In the game, Ray scored a team-high 27 points and shot 7-of-9 (77 percent) from beyond the arc for the East squad. His team lost the game, but Ray earned one of two inspirational player awards.
Ray hopes to become an all-around player at the next level.
“I have to work on my defense. My coaches harp on me a lot on that," he said.
To prepare for the next level, he’s practicing his shots as usual but is lifting weights to “bulk up.”
Ray first gained the attention of the Sunbirds’ coaching staff during a team camp he attended with the Kingsburg basketball team. He led all players in scoring at a tournament during the camp at Fresno Pacific last summer.
“Jeremy just put on an absolute show,” Sunbirds’ head coach C.J. Haydock said. “[He was] shooting really well, scored off the bounce a little bit. We had known of Jeremy a little bit before that, but that was the moment when we were like ‘Yeah this is a kid that we want to be a part of what we’re doing that’s for sure.’”
Ray’s high school coach Todd Brown, who played basketball at Fresno Pacific (2006-10), was instrumental in his success throughout his prep career.
“He helped me get to where I am today,” Ray said “If it wasn’t for him, I would not be here. He definitely helps me get in the gym in the mornings more than any coach I've ever had. He’s the best coach.”
Brown said he shared his experiences of attending Fresno Pacific with Ray.
“… my experience was super positive,” Brown said. “It was obviously up to him, but I shared with him everything I knew [about Fresno Pacific]."
Ray received academic scholarships for Gonzaga and St. Mary’s, but only had one other offer to play basketball – at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Fresno Pacific allowed him to continue playing basketball and get challenged academically while staying close to home.
“I am glad to stay and rep the Valley,” Ray said.