In front of a crowd of classmates, teammates, family, coaches and teachers Monday morning at Sprague High School’s gym floor, A.J. Lapray choked up while thanking a long list of people who had helped him develop as a basketball player.
Normally when he’s in front of a crowd on Sprague’s gym floor Lapray has a basketball in his hands, but this time all he had was a pen.
The 6-foot-4 senior guard from Sprague High School signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball at Oregon.
“It has so many pros,” Lapray said. “I weighed the pros and cons of many schools, and it was something that felt right. It’s close to home. I have all my friends and family here to support me through everything.
“Coach (Kevin) McKenna and coach (Dana) Altman, they’ve been great throughout the recruiting process. They know if I put the hard work in I’ll fit in great there. They have some players there right now that I think would compliment myself well and I could help compliment them, too.”
Lapray said Oregon offered him a scholarship about two weeks ago and he committed Thursday.
Other schools – such as Oregon State and Utah – offered him scholarships earlier, but he wanted to go to Oregon
“It’s something that I really would have waited around for,” Lapray said. “It felt like the perfect fit for me. When I looked at their program and compared it to other schools Oregon felt right. It felt like the best possible opportunity for me."
Lapray is the first athlete from Salem to sign to play at Oregon since his uncle, Mike McShane, a former South Salem standout who played there from 1996 to 1999.
When Lapray was in middle school, McShane gave him memorabilia from his playing days at Oregon, including jerseys and warm-ups, which some of Lapray’s Sprague teammates wore to the signing ceremony.
“Obviously a kid like that is going to get a lot of attention, but he’s been able to get his teammates on board, and his teammates are excited to play with him, and those types of things,” Sprague coach B.J. Dobrkovsky.