WYOMING, Ohio -- Jan Wilking remembers the familiar sound in the gym this past fall.
There was senior guard Lonnie Grayson working on his game one dribble and one shot at a time.
“The kid just lives in the gym,” Wyoming coach Tim Edmonds said.
Wilking, Wyoming’s athletic director, knew all was right with the basketball standout.
“There are literally days that I leave a soccer game at 9:30 at night and there is no else in the school,” Wilking said last week. “I hear this ‘bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce. Swish, swish.’ It’s always him. Every time.”
The 6-foot-1 Grayson, who is committed to Army West Point, is the best player on one of the area’s elite boys’ basketball teams this winter. He averages 20.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.6 steals for the Cowboys (8-0, 4-0 Cincinnati Hills League), who figure to be a team that could make a deep run in the Division II tournament.
He had a career-high 35 points in an 85-40 win at Ross Tuesday night. He was 8 of 9 from beyond the 3-point arc.
For his efforts this season, he was recently named a LaRosa's MVP weekly winner.
“He’s just an incredible kid,” Edmonds said. “He’s probably a better kid than basketball player. He is an outstanding student and an all-around good kid.”
That is not hyperbole.
Grayson, 17, takes the responsibility of being a student-athlete seriously. He has a 3.68 grade-point average. He doesn’t mind waking up early to work out at 6 a.m. in the gym.
“That’s what I tell the middle-school kids -- his success is not by accident,” Wilking said. “It’s truly an amazing story.”
Grayson remembers the summer after his freshman season when everything seemed to make sense on the court. He worked out with former Wyoming standout Ahmad Frost starting at 5:30 a.m.
They’d practice ball-handling drills and pick-and-roll situations. Grayson would go home for a nap and return by 1 p.m.
“He helped show me what I needed to do to get to the next level,” Grayson said.
Frost, a redshirt sophomore at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, and Grayson still speak every day. Frost taught Grayson the physicality of the game.
“He was a hard worker,” Frost told WCPO.com. “He can shoot the ball very well. He had a tight handle. I told him to work on defense.”
A few years ago, Grayson made it a goal to play Division I college basketball. But he knows education is always first.
“He is a joy to have,” says his father, Lonnie Grayson. “He’s very focused and very driven. He has a good balance. He loves God and his family.”
Grayson has such a passion for basketball he pledges he will play the game his whole life.
“In the wheelchair, I will be dribbling the ball,” Grayson jokes.
There seems to be no doubt. Grayson always wants to represent Wyoming with class.
“I just think it’s neat,” Wilking said. “They admire what you do.”
Grayson’s family is proud of his accomplishments. Lance, his younger brother, sits with his sixth-grade friends in the first two rows of Lonnie’s games.
Lonnie, who turns 18 March 1, takes it all in stride. After a late December win at Granville, a young fan asked for Grayson’s photo and autograph. He happily obliged.
Late last week, Grayson reflected on his career at Wyoming. He’s surpassed the 1,000-point career milestone and is one of the best players Wyoming has produced. That's not enough for him.
He added 15 pounds of muscle since last season. He plays above the rim. He’s quick and strong defensively. He’s improved his rebounding.
This year’s team has starters that include Grayson and two sets of brothers -- Evan and Garyn Prater and Joey and Jake Edmonds.
Wyoming hasn’t been challenged recently. The Cowboys have defeated the past three opponents by 30 or more points each. Wyoming defeated Ross 85-40 Tuesday night.
But the Cowboys aren’t satisfied.
“We need to execute better,” Grayson reminds himself. “Our coaches say ‘don’t let this fool you – it’s not February yet.’”