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 from 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 said. “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 said. “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 that 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 said. “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 one 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 said. “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.
“Just handling my business; not being a trouble player,” Spry said. “Not causing issues or anything like that I think goes a long way with coaches, knowing that it’s a player they don’t have to worry about. I think those are all kind of things I’ve been focusing on here as ways to kind of set myself apart in hopes of getting that scholarship.”
On the court, Spry is trying to transition to be more of a guard. This season he is specifically looking to improve his three-point shot and his ball-handling skills.
“I’m not really a center anymore,” Spry said. “In high school I was kind of like that center who could shoot threes. Now I’m kind of a bigger guard, and so I have to be able to have that three-point shot.
“If I can be the best shooter on the team, I think it’s going to be hard to take me off the floor. I feel like it’s going to be difficult to not give me a scholarship.”