University Heights Academy’s Gavin Grubbs passes to a teammate during a drill at a practice last week.

After already having to sit out for an entire year, University Heights Academy’s Gavin Grubbs was excited to hear that the winter season was set to begin on Jan. 4.

“When I heard we were going to play I was really happy,” Grubbs said. “I’ve put in countless hours in the gym, in the summer and in AAU games. I know my work will show when we start playing.”

The young Blazer, however, did get a year in Grant Shouse’s system, giving him an opportunity to learn and understand the style of play he was going to need to play when he was finally able to step foot onto the floor in a UHA uniform.

Despite knowing he wasn’t going to be able to play, Shouse said you would have never known Grubbs wasn’t going to take the floor.

“I was proud of how he handled sitting out last year,” Shouse said. “Once the games started I know he missed playing. But you would’ve never known he wasn’t going to play in practice. He always brought a good attitude to practice.”

Grubbs said the year of practice has been huge for him as he got some time guarding a guard-heavy roster UHA has to offer.

“It was hard,” Grubbs said. “I’m not used to playing against a guard like KJ (Crump) — a real fast guard. Amani (McGee), a real shifty. DJ (Quarles), a real strong guard. It was a real great experience and really good competition here too.”

Shouse sees a lot of potential in Grubbs and expects him to step up and make an impact right away.

“He loves the game, he works on his own and he puts in his time,” he said. “The thing that stands out to me is he’s got great vision. He’s an excellent passer and has a pretty high IQ for a young player. He likes to set guys up. I think sometimes he’s too unselfish. I think he needs to shoot the ball more. He’s a pass-first guy. He’s been working on his outside shooting. I know he’s been getting a lot of feedback to improve his outside shooting. He’ll improve there because he’ll put in the work. He’s improving already. He likes to play defense. Anybody that likes to get down and defend and make it difficult for the opposing player, typically makes it onto the floor. Definitely have high expectations for him, and looking forward to seeing him come in and have an impact.”

Grubbs said expects a lot out of himself coming into his first year with the Blazers.

“I’m expecting myself to play great defense,” he said of his expectations. “I want to be able to hit the open three or make the wide-open shots I’m going to have.”

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