Belleville East's Evan Gray commits to University of Arkansas
Belleville East senior Evan Gray verbally committed to playing for the Razorbacks in 2019.
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound pitcher recently turned heads in Atlanta starring for the St. Louis Pirates Select 17U team. The right-hander will have plenty of company in Arkansas, as his younger brother, Drew, a sophomore, had already committed to the university.
“I had been in contact with TCU (Texas Christian), Duke, Stanford and Louisville and a couple of Ivy League schools all in the last week or so,’’ Gray told the Belleville New-Democrat. “But I visited Arkansas about a year ago and really liked the school and facilities. Driving down yesterday, I just felt like this is where I wanted to go to school and play baseball.”
His decision was not just about baseball, Gray said.
“Academics are really important to me and in my family,” he said. “Arkansas is a place where I can get a great education and when it comes to playing college baseball, it doesn’t get any better than Arkansas.’’
The Razorbacks (48-21) reached the NCAA Division 1 College World Series in June, dropping the final game in a best-of-three series against Oregon State.
Gray said knowing that he and his younger brother will have another chance to call themselves teammates was also a factor in settling on Arkansas.
“I feel really good about the decision and my family is really happy that Drew and I will be playing together at Arkansas,” he said. “I tried to make the fact that he (Drew) is going to Arkansas not be a major influence in my decision. But it did a little bit. To be able to play high school baseball with my brother is great and now to know that we’ll play two years of college baseball on the same team, that’s something special.’’
Coach Ryan Wiggs said Gray has added velocity during the summer and now has better control of his pitches.
“I know he had a good showing in Atlanta earlier this summer and I think that helped him,’’ Wiggs said. “We had him clocked at 88 mph this spring and I think he’s added a little bit to that. He’s at 88-90 with his fastball and he’s got a sharp-breaking curveball. Plus, his command has gotten a lot better.’’