By Chris Fahrendrof, College Times
As a preferred walk-on, freshman Ethan Spry knows he has a long way to go to earn a full-ride scholarship from Grand Canyon University, but he is ready to put in the work to get there.
A graduate of Scottsdale Christian Academy, Spry is no stranger to proving people wrong. Even though he led the Eagles to a 2A state basketball championship, was named the 2A Metro Region Player of the Year, averaged 17.6 points and 10.4 rebounds per game his senior year, and is 6-foot-8, Spry says many coaches and recruiters doubted him due to the small conference in which he played.
“To be honest, coming out of a 2A school, coaches looked at that with skepticism,” Spry says. “I’m not here at Grand Canyon because someone just offered it to me. I worked pretty hard to be here.”
Scottsdale Christian is a small school with a little over 200 high school students, and it competes in one of the smallest divisions in the AIA. Even so, Spry believes the competition in 2A is a lot better than most people think.
“I don’t think the 2A competition is quite as bad as a lot of people make it out to be,” Spry says.
“We were originally in a bigger division, but they (the AIA) made all the schools go back to the division of their school size, and so there were kind of a lot of other private schools that had really good basketball teams that were kind of in the same boat as us and were forced to move into a smaller division.”
While the competition he faced at Scottsdale Christian may have been a step down from club, Spry believes playing for the Eagles turned him into the player he is today.
“I think it was good for me on a personal level because every game I kind of felt like there was a certain level that I had to perform at,” Spry says. “Knowing that (you’re one of the most talented players in the conference) kind of helps you hold yourself to a higher standard.”
Spry had a hard time turning down offers from Army and Dallas Baptist, but he believes GCU is the right fit for him. He chose Grand Canyon in order to stay close to his family and prove that he belongs at a successful Division I basketball program.
Spry plans on proving he deserves to be at Grand Canyon by doing anything he can to earn a full-ride scholarship.
“My goal of being a full D-1 athlete hasn’t been achieved yet,” Spry says.
“That’s part of the reason why I chose GCU, is because I had a lot of coaches over the years tell me that I wasn’t ever going to be a D-1 basketball player.”
Now, Spry is working on becoming the best player he can be both on and off the court.
Off the court, Spry believes becoming a “culture guy” and setting a good example for the team during practices and before games will help him earn that full ride.