Tough - A person characterized by an uncompromising determination and discipline that can endure a period of hardship or difficulty. They are strong and firm, but they are still flexible. They are not brittle. They won’t break easily.
Camille Gray is tough.
By Christian Mordi / @thedribbledrop
Camille started playing basketball casually when she was young, but it was in middle school that she fell in love with the game. “In 6th grade I started playing basketball competitively,” said Miller. “Coach (Lance Miller) asked me to come out and give basketball a shot. I was hooked from there.” Camille began smother herself in the game. When she wasn’t playing, she watched the game and learned from the greats. One of the things she noticed early was the mental approach to the game by some of the best teams in the world. “I love to watch UConn. They are one of those teams that doesn’t play the score. They can be up thirty and they still play their game. They never play down to their opponent.”
Gray saw tremendous growth in regards to skill set over the next two years. When she started her high school career at Franklin High, she was placed on varsity. Her first year playing high school basketball was a big adjustment. “When I first moved up I realized things were different,” said Miller. “My coach wasn’t playing any games. Practices were longer and way more intense. The games were way faster in high school as well.” Rather than give up and quit, Camille put her head in the sand and worked harder than ever to prove she belonged. While she didn’t start at first, she was in the rotation and learned a lot from an starting five loaded with upperclassmen. “My First year was an amazing learning experience,” said Gray. “The starting five played together since they were in the 6th grade. The chemistry they had was great.”
During her sophomore year, Gray became a full time starter. There was a lot of turnover on the roster, as many key pieces graduated. While the roster had talent, they were young. As a result, her sophomore year was a rebuilding year of sorts. It was during that time that Miller developed a strong bond with head coach Audrey Taylor. Gray talks fondly of her coach, saying “She is a phenomenal coach. Having her my entire four years has been a blessing.” Coach
During her sophomore year, Gray was joined by Diamond Miller at Franklin High. Camille had a great relationship with Diamond due to playing AAU for Team Miller. “We already had established a good two man game with each other,” said Gray. “We know where each other likes the ball and what they are going to do. We feed off of each other.” Gray spoke highly of Miller, saying “Her love for the game is different. I’ve never met someone with that much love for the game. They way she works out and how much work she puts into the game is phenomenal.” Diamond gave a lot of credit to Camille for their success as a program, saying “Camille is awesome to play with. She’s very supportive of her teammates.” Diamond also spoke high of her effort level, saying “no matter the score, Camille is always giving 110%. She is a game changer.” Coach Taylor also mentioned the toughness of Gray, saying “Her hard work and determination on the defensive side of the floor is what I love about her. She’s always willing and eager to guard the other teams best player, which is a big part of why we have been able to be so successful.”
Iron sharpens iron, and during her Junior season, Franklin had a breakout year. Before the state playoffs started, Franklin had a team meeting and laid the cards out on the table. “Before we went on our run, we thought, who is holding us back?” said Gray. “Nobody expected anything from us. We just played hard every game and had fun with it.” As the playoffs went on, Gray and her teammates raised the intensity every day to prepare for the next big game. “We worked hard every practice and paid attention to what coach told us,” said the sensational senior. “We knew every game would get harder and harder. We bought in on defense and used that side of the floor as an advantage.” Franklin was rewarded for their hard work by winning a state championship against Manasquan.
This summer was a big one for Camille. She hit the AAU circuit hard. After fielding offers on all levels, Gray chose to continue her career at LIU Brooklyn. Gray credits the authentic approach of the coaches within the program as the reason she committed the school. "The coaches gave off a great vibe. They didn’t tell me everything I wanted to hear, they told me the truth,” said Gray. “They kept it real with me and they didn’t butter me up on my visit.”
While her senior year got off to a rocky start, Franklin High is coming to form when it matters most. As her high school career is drawing closer to the end, Camille has her mind set on two things: winning back to back state titles and maintaining the strong team culture of the program. “My goal this year is to make sure everyone on my team to has confidence in themselves. For everyone to play their game," said Gray. "I would love to make it back to the tournament of champions. If that doesn’t happy for some reason along the way, I just want us to play as a team and never fall apart. I just want to stay together.”