Rudy Carlton Gay Jr. (born August 17, 1986) is an American professional basketball player for the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The 6'8" small forward played college basketball for the University of Connecticut before being drafted eighth overall in the 2006 NBA draft by the Houston Rockets; he was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies days later.
Early life and high school
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Gay began playing competitive recreational basketball at the age of 12 in his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. At the age of 14, Gay began playing for the nationally known Cecil-Kirk AAU program under coach Anthony Lewis.
Gay played his first two years of high school basketball at Baltimore County's Eastern Technical High School, a magnet school in Essex. He played varsity basketball both years. In his sophomore season at Eastern Tech, the Mavericks earned their first and only trip to College Park for the state semi-finals. Although Eastern Tech was a Blue Ribbon academic institution, Gay's parents were concerned about his college preparation. He began his junior year with Eastern Tech, but in September 2002, he transferred to Archbishop Spalding in Severn. This prompted the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association to review its transfer rules. He began playing basketball for Spalding as a junior in 2002–03, earning first team All-Baltimore Catholic League honors as a junior and senior, and was also honored as the Baltimore Sun's co-player of the year as a senior. He was the Washington Post All-Met Basketball Player of the Year, a McDonald's All-American, and a Parade first-team All-American in his senior year after averaging 21.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game. Considered a five-star recruit by Rivals.com, Gay was listed as the No. 2 small forward and the No. 5 player in the nation in 2004.
Gay's college recruitment and decision to attend the University of Connecticut over the University of Maryland were controversial. Gay had expressed a desire to attend Maryland and said that he grew up rooting for the team, but he ultimately chose UConn. Because of the heavy involvement of an AAU coach and a high school coach, there was the appearance of impropriety, although no NCAA recruiting violations were discovered. The NCAA adopted a new scheduling rule after UConn paid $25,000 to schedule a game against the Beltway Ballers, an ad hoc AAU team that consisted of Gay's former teammates. Although it violated no standing rule at the time, media observers and Connecticut staff considered it directly connected to the recruitment. According to individuals close to Maryland head coach Gary Williams, the recruitment demonstrated that rule bending is often necessary to secure highly touted players, which Williams said he is unwilling to do, even at the expense of recruiting.