HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Back in January Hattiesburg High diamond star Joe Gray verbally committed to Ole Miss. He still has a year of high school ball left. So clearly he's got some game.
"Yeah Joe's probably the most talented player that I've ever coached," Tigers coach Joe Hartfield said. "The kids feed off of him. Not only is he talented, he has a work ethic that's second to none."
Gray ranks fourth on the Perfect Game's class of 2018 rankings. His 6-foot3, 195-pound frame along with athleticism and skill will likely make room for him in the pro ranks.
"He's really explosive offensively, Hartfield said. "He runs really well and he can hit a baseball over 400 feet which he's proven this year. He's a special talent and it's always a secure feeling to know that you've got a guy like that in your lineup."
With great talent comes great responsibility. Gray is well aware of this.
"I do volunteer teaching at Mississippi Elite with a group of kids out there that plays at their little facility," Gray said. "So I take it as a community role and also as a team. A lot of kids on our team look up at me. So I mean I just basically have to be the leader that they want me to be."
A leader to his peers, great numbers and a college scholarship. This didn't come gift wrapped for Gray. He puts in the work so his gifts can be fully realized.
"He's an elite player," Hartfield said. "He's probably as good as any player across the nation at his age. That's due to a lot of God-given talent and also due to his work ethic."
What type of work ethic are we talking, Mr. Gray?
"I remember last week we played three games at home, Sumrall, Oak Grove and Ocean Springs," Gray said. "I hit after every single one of them games. Also away games that we would come back around 11 o'clock I would go hit at night, 12 o'clock at night. So I always put in my brain that I have to hit every day. Never waste a swing and it's just the fact that I never want to be average. It's pretty much like a fear. I fear being average so that's why I always choose to work."