Rudy Carlton Gay, Jr. is a professional basketball player from the United States of America who plays as a small forward. At the tender age of 12, Gay was introduced to the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) where he played for the Turner Station Community at one of the toughest youth basketball leagues in the country. Gay played against some of the best in the country while playing in the Tom Jones Youth Summer League.
By the time he turned 14, Gay was already under the Cecil-Kirk AAU program, a special program for blue-chip players and played alongside the likes of Josh Boone and Chester Frazier. Gay was already sought after amongst private schools and attended Eastern Technical High School before transferring to Archbishop Spalding High School.
His first two years were spent at Eastern Technical High School, a blue ribbon academic institution. Gay was advised to look at private schools, after his sophomore season, in order to improve his bid to play for some of the top university teams in the country. Gay moved to the Archbishop Spalding High School, showcasing his skill at the All-Baltimore Catholic League.
He was named to the first team for the entire league in both seasons, junior and senior, while also being named as the Co-Player of the Year, by Baltimore Sun. Gay was named as the Washington Post All-Met Basketball Player of the Year along with the McDonald’s and Parade Magazine All-American First Teams during the senior year. Gay had 21.2 points per game with 9.2 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game in the final season of High School ball.
Gay decided to play for the University of Connecticut, after turning down the University of Maryland, in a move that created some controversy in the college basketball circles. There were rumours that the AAU & high school coaches, of Gay, helped him get into UConn, although the association couldn’t find any abnormalities in the recruitment process.
The controversy was regarding a game scheduled to be played between UConn and the Beltway Ballers, a team consisting of Gay’s former teammates, primarily to offer more exposure to the AAU. UConn was supposed to have paid $25,000 to schedule the game, hoping to tempt the coaches to persuade Gay to play for them in exchange. University of Maryland coach, Gary Williams, came out to say that rule-bending is quite essential when recruiting the country’s top talent, something that he was unwilling to do.
Gay quickly became known for his high flying, slam-dunking antics and extreme versatility. He won the 2005 Big East Conference Freshman of the Year award along with Jeff Green, before being named as the National Freshman of the Year by The Sporting News.
Gay was picked up by the USA Men’s Under-21 team for the FIBA U-21 World Championships, where he averaged 10.5 points per game with 5.5 rebounds.
Gay began his sophomore season in fine style, getting named as the Big East Pre-season Player of the Year along with Gerry McNamara. Gay was nominated for the Naismith College Player of the Year Award along with being named to the All-Big East First Team. He led the team to a 30-3 record before deciding to declare for the 2006 NBA Draft.
Gay was picked at 8th overall, by the Houston Rockets, a position considered too low for a player with his talent. The Memphis Grizzlies quickly swung in to grab Gay on Draft night, giving Shane Battier to the Rockets in exchange for Stromile Swift and Gay.
Gay began his first season promisingly, scoring at 10.8 points per game in an otherwise poor season for the franchise. Gay helped Pau Gasol in the scoring department, in 2007-08, scoring at 20.1 points per game with 6.2 rebounds however that wasn’t enough to help the team to anything more than 22 wins for the season. Pau Gasol left for the Lakers in mid-season, making Gay the team’s top scorer.
Gay was called up to the 2008 Slam Dunk Contest but didn’t make it into the second round.
In 2008-09, Gay’s scoring dropped to 18.9 points per game with 5.5 rebounds. He was invited for the Slam Dunk Contest for the second year in a row but was forced to pull out due to injuries.