JMU roundup: JuCo basketball All-American signs with Dukes

Daily Staff Report — sports@nvdaily.com

HARRISONBURG — James Madison men’s basketball coach Matt Brady announced on Wednesday the signing of transfer All-American guard Winston Grays to a national letter of intent to join the Dukes for the 2014-15 academic year.

“He’s a young guy we’ve been aware of for quite some time,” commented Brady upon Grays’ signing. “He had a terrific second year, in fact he had two great years of junior college. He’s a really fluid basketball player with a high basketball IQ and he makes the extra pass. Really, he can play a couple of different positions, including point guard. He’s a very team-oriented player and a guy who’s been interested in us for a while.”

A prolific scorer, Grays spent the last two years as the leading point contributor and team MVP at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College in his native Ohio. The 6-foot-2 guard was named a first team National Junior College Athletic Association Division II All-American after averaging 20.2 points per game. He led the Surge to a 29-5 record, a share of the Ohio Community College Athletic Conference (OCCAC) title with a league record of 11-1 and a fifth-place finish in the NJCAA national tournament.

The Player of the Year in the OCCAC, Grays also averaged 4.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.6 steals in 28.1 minutes per game while shooting 45 percent overall from the field and 35.6 percent from the arc for an average of 2.2 made 3-pointers per game. He was eighth nationally with 85 total steals and 39th in scoring while finishing as the program’s third all-time leading scorer with 1,144 points in two seasons. As a team, Cincinnati State was second nationally in steals and fourth in scoring, largely thanks to his contributions.

In his first year in 2012-13, the Surge went 21-9 overall with Grays leading the way with 16.5 points per game. He added 3.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.6 steals in 27.2 minutes per game while shooting 44 percent overall and 42 percent from the arc.

As a senior at Cleveland’s Benedictine High School, Grays led the Bengals to the 2012 Ohio High School Athletic Association semifinals and earned second team all-conference and third team all-district accolades. He averaged 14 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals in his final scholastic campaign.

Grays is the third newcomer to sign with the Dukes for 2014-15, joining a pair of incoming freshmen. Hari Hall is a 6-foot, 7-inch forward from Jacksonville, Florida, while Dante Sterling is a 6-foot, 5-inch guard from Atlanta, Georgia.


HARRISONBURG — James Madison softball senior shortstop Caitlin Sandy is the Eastern College Athletic Conference Softball South Region Player of the Week, the organization announced Wednesday. This is the second time Sandy has claimed the honor this season and the fourth time the ECAC has recognized a JMU softball player this year.

Sandy hit .563 on the week, going 9-for-16 at the plate, including a double and three home runs to help lead the Dukes to a 5-0 record last week. She added 11 RBIs, six runs and a sacrifice in five games started. The senior smacked her first career grand slam in a win over Virginia early in the week before going 3-for-3 with two home runs and a career-best five RBIs in the series opener against Delaware. Sandy is currently on a seven game hitting streak and has reached base safely in 15 straight games.

This season, Sandy is hitting a team-high .327 with six doubles, one triple and seven home runs. She also has 28 RBIs, 27 runs, 15 walks and six steals. Over the weekend she climbed into a tie for third in games played with 214, moved into fifth in hits with 178 and tied for tenth in home runs with 13.

The Dukes also continued to receive national attention this week, receiving votes in both major national polls and climbing a spot in the latest Rating Percentage Index (RPI). In the RPI, JMU climbed up to 23, its second-highest ranking this season. After debuting at 26 in the ranking, Madison climbed to as high as 22 and have fallen no lower than 31.

The Dukes received 14 votes in the NFCA/USA Today Top 25 Coach’s Poll, ranking them 28th in the poll. It is the eighth straight week they’ve collected votes in that poll. In the USA Softball/ESPN.com Top 25 poll, JMU received two votes, putting it at 32nd in the poll. This is the fourth week Madison has appeared in that ranking.

JMU returns to action this weekend as it closes the regular season with a three-game series at UNCW. Friday’s doubleheader starts at noon from Boseman Field with Saturday’s season finale also scheduled for a noon start.