Juwan Gary will play college basketball in the Southeastern Conference, but it won’t be with the South Carolina Gamecocks.
Gary committed to play for Alabama on Friday at the Nike EYBL Peach Jam. The Gray Collegiate forward picked the Crimson Tide over in-state schools South Carolina and Clemson, Virginia Tech and North Carolina State.
Gary said his parents joined him at Peach Jam on Thursday. It was then, he said, when they discussed the final details of his decision. He credited Crimson Tide coach Avery Johnson for his choice.
“I think coach Avery will push me to be the best player I can be, make me a pro,” Gary said. “So I’m going to take my talent to Alabama.”
Gary is the Tide’s second commit for the 2019 class, joining Diante Smith. He visited Alabama in June and came away impressed.
“Their style of play fits me very well,” Gary said. “Their style of play is fast, they get out and run in transition, but at the same time they have to play defense. But coach Avery Johnson, he likes to go out in more transition plays, got out there and get the ball, rebound and push it.”
Gary will be the second Midlands’ player on the Crimson Tide roster. Former Dreher standout Tevin Mack transferred to Alabama from Texas and has two years of eligibility left.
“I’ve been in South Carolina for all my life,” Gary said. “But going out of state, playing for a different coach, different environment, it will be a good fit for me. I won’t have distractions up there, but at the same time I got Tevin Mack up there, one player from South Carolina.
“So me and him are going to go at it every day in practice. So I just know I got somebody up there to watch my back, watch over me like a little bro.”
The four-star prospect has been one of the most coveted players in the state and has been a national Top 100 recruit since his freshman season. 247Sports Composite ranks Gary as the No. 67 prospect, and Rivals has him as the 70th ranked prospect in the country from the class of 2019.
“Gary is someone that can check many of the boxes with his play on each side of the floor. While he does have to become a better perimeter shooter, it is his ability to finish at the basket, defend multiple positions and win the 50-50 plays that stand out the greatest with Gary,” Rivals analyst Corey Evans wrote.
As a junior, Gary had his best season in helping Gray Collegiate to its first Class 2A state championship. The forward averaged 20.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.9 steals and was named the Class 2A Player of the Year.
Gary went through a big transformation before his junior season from cutting his hair, to hitting the weight room and spending extensive hours on the basketball court improving his game. He also spent a lot of time with former USC standout Brandon Wallace, who is an assistant with Gray Collegiate.
Gray Collegiate coach Dion Bethea credits Wallace, who played at South Carolina and later in the NBA and overseas for seven seasons with a big part of Gray’s development. Wallace has helped Gary improve his jump shot this season. He shot 52 percent from the field and 63 percent on his two-point field goals.
“Brandon spent a lot of time with those kids,” Bethea said. “Him and Juwan have had great conversations on what the next level is like and how hard you got to work to be a pro and changing that image up. He has done that. Juwan wanted to get his body right and focus on helping us win a state championship.”