By Rich Winter
Every morning Aberdeen Roncalli junior Gray Imbery hauls himself out of bed at 5:00 a.m. Four days a week in those early morning hours BEFORE school starts, the Roncalli junior is at the gym, putting in that silent work that very few kids across South Dakota are putting in. By the time school starts, Imbery only has about 12 hours until his day is over. After school there is tennis practice, then off to work where he keeps 12 properties mowed to perfection.
And then, he works on basketball!
Sure the sun might be down and sure, most kids are having dinner and watching television…
Gray Imbrey isn’t most kids.
After an already 12-hour day, Imbery links up with Sacred Hoops coach, Skyler Bertram to get in shots, work on his 3-point game, run through drill-after-drill aimed at taking his game to the next level.
I don't see a lot of drive in the average kid but his work ethic is from another planet,” Bertram said. “Very few kids are able to lift four days a week. And, he has his own business and does workouts at night when he’s done working.”
For several years now the Aberdeen Roncalli boys have been knocking on the state tournament door. Two years ago, a loss in the So-Dak 16 prevented a state tournament appearance. Last year the season ended with a loss to Redfield/Doland (45-42) one round short of the So-Dak 16.
With a large contingent of seniors last year, Imbery was the only sophomore that played varsity. At 6-foot-4, Imbery embraced any role to help the team, jumping into the post, mostly at power-forward. With heavy graduation losses, and the desire to play college basketball, Imbery has been putting in extra work this fall, transitioning to a guard.
“In college I’m not going to play in the post so I’ve been working hard on making that transition and improving my game,” Imbery said.
Add to that, as the only returning starter with meaningful minutes, Imbery is embracing his role as a leader for the upcoming season.
“We don't have those seniors and I’m the only one with experience,” Imbery said. “I want to play college basketball and that is really pushing me to balance my time and make sure I’m putting in the work.”
A ton of long days, many late nights, Skyler Bertram says he’s more than impressed with a pupil who wants to get better.
“Gray is a really good player that is 6-foot-4, long and strong,” Bertram said. “He’s responded really well to our training and in addition to his long day he finds time to get up several hundred shots and go through guard-improving drills. “
This summer, Imbery played on Anthony Redman’s 16-U squad with Sacred Hoops and the Barnburner Academy. That, and the kind of effort he’s putting in leads Skyler Bertram to believe the Roncalli junior is poised for a massive junior season.
“The kind of work he’s doing and the kind of consistent effort he’s showing with an improved 3-point shot I feel like he’s going to be a deadly scorer at the Class A level,” Bertram said.
In addition to his long days of lifting, school, work and basketball, Imbery is also a competitive tennis player for Aberdeen Roncalli.
The Cavaliers moved from AA to A this season and Imbery has a good shot at doing well at the state tournament.