LAKEWOOD RANCH — From the first moment he stepped onto the basketball court as a fifth-grader, Chaz Grady had to adjust to playing a game about which he knew next to nothing.
But what Grady lacked in skill, he made up for in drive and enthusiasm.
One year after joining the Bay City Ballers, an AAU travel team, the point guard helped lead his team to a state championship and a berth in the national tournament. There, Grady secured a game-winning steal and a game-winning shot to lead the Ballers into the championship and a second-place finish overall.
It was then that the 2013 Lakewood Ranch High graduate decided he wanted to play at the next level.
And on June 7, Grady saw his childhood dream come to fruition when he signed a $40,000 scholarship to play basketball for Hiram College in Ohio.
“I’ve had my eye set on playing college ball ever since I was in AAU,” Grady says. “I’m the first one in my family to really go to college and (play) basketball.”
Grady chose Hiram over Greensboro College and Saints Catholic College. At Hiram, he will join fellow Lakewood Ranch alum Ki-jana Brown, who will play football for the Terriers.
“I went up for a visit, and we talked to each other,” Grady says. “I connected with the coach, and he seems like a genuinely nice guy. I know I’m getting into a good program.”
During his senior season with the Mustangs, Grady averaged 12 points, six rebounds, three assists and four steals a game.
“Chaz’s greatest strength is his ability to compete at a high level every day,” Lakewood coach Jeremy Schiller says. “Chaz is one of the players I am most proud of because of how much he developed over the last two years both on and off the court. He was able to stay focused, work hard and lead our athletes even through times of great adversity.”
Grady, who plans to major in engineering, will spend the rest of the summer preparing for college athletics.
“I’m looking forward to the atmosphere,” Grady says. “There are going to bigger and louder crowds. And, I’m excited about playing at the college level.”
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].