Globe Feature On Gurley's NBA Bid
April 24, 2011
By Marvin Pave
Anthony Gurley fell in love with basketball as a 7-year-old, playing ball in the Pee Wee league at the Roxbury YMCA.
"I've never looked back since then,'' said Gurley, a fifth-year senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who was recently honored with the George "Trigger'' Burke Award as the team's MVP.
"There's always room for improvement, and I'm working hard every day to reach my dream . . . the NBA,'' he said.
This winter, Gurley paced the Minutemen in scoring in 23 of 30 games, and hit double figures in the first 22 contests.
A Metco student who teamed up with Corey Lowe to power Newton North High School to Division 1 state championships in 2005 and 2006, Gurley realizes that making the transition to the pro game will require change.
"The way the game is evolving, guards are a lot bigger now in the NBA and on the wing; I'd be matched up against 6-5 and 6-6 players,'' said the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Gurley, who finished with 1,331 career points for UMass, and averaged a team-high 18.7 points last season.
To enhance his stock among NBA scouts, he is trying to become more versatile, able to play point guard as well as shooting guard.
"I played some point in high school and in small spurts at UMass, but I've always felt I would be capable of playing that position,'' Gurley said.
"I look at it as a new challenge,'' he added. "I'm a proven scorer -- everyone knows I can put the ball in the hoop -- and it's time for me to show I can also be a playmaker.
"I look at a lot of NBA rosters, and there are a lot of guys who are combo guards who can play the 1 or 2,'' he said, citing Delonte West of the Celtics as an example.
Gurley graduated as all-time leading scorer at Newton North (1,850 career points) and played for one season at Wake Forest before transferring to UMass.
"I believe I've improved my ball handling skills and my ability to get into the lane and finish, and those are two aspects of my game that I still have to take to another level,'' said Gurley, who declared for the NBA draft last year, worked out for the Celtics, then withdrew after deciding to return to UMass.
He anticipates being invited to workouts by NBA teams.
A third-team Atlantic-10 Conference pick, Gurley had a chance to showcase his talents recently at the 59th annual Portsmouth Invitational, a predraft tournament in Virginia closely watched by NBA teams.
"I thought the tournament went pretty well,'' Gurley said. "But I definitely saw things I needed to work on. There's still a ways to go, but I'm getting a better feel for the game with the ball in my hands and in making the right decisions.''
UMass coach Derek Kellogg said Gurley has a "tremendous work ethic and attitude.''
"I would never sell a guy like that short,'' Kellogg said. "He became a complete basketball player for us.
"Anthony was not only our leader on the floor, but also for our program. He did all the things a senior leader should do, and to get invited to the predraft tournament was testament to his fine season.
"I heard he played well there and gave them a taste of what he could do,'' the coach said.
"Anthony's a scorer, and they're a commodity at any level,'' he said. Gurley might start off in the NBA's Development League, or go overseas "and continue to hone his skills,'' Kellogg said. "I'm hopeful that he'll realize that NBA dream someday.''
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