By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – After serving the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team as its director of operations for the past two seasons, Blake Gray has been promoted and will now take over as an assistant coach for the Golden Eagles, as announced by head coach John Pelphrey.
"Blake embodies everything we want our program to stand for," Pelphrey shared, "class, character, and competitiveness. He truly embraces our 'Code' and 'Leaders First Mentality'. He has become a trusted advisor for us all over the years. Blake is a great example for our young men of what hard work and treating people with respect look like on a daily basis. There is no doubt he will be a star in his new role as an assistant coach."
Gray shared what the opportunity means to him as he steps into his first role as an assistant coach.
"It's a blessing," Gray expressed. "In order to get your first opportunity to do anything, you need someone to believe in you. We are very fortunate to have a leader like Coach Pel that heavily invests in the people in our program. Coach has created a culture that develops everyone – from our student-athletes to our staff to our managers – one that allows each person to learn, grow, and get better so they will be prepared when their opportunity comes."
Gray joined the Golden Eagle staff as the director of basketball operations in April 2019, following the hiring of Pelphrey earlier in the month. In that time, the program has undergone a facelift, developing a rock-solid culture where the emphasis on growing as a student and as a man has taken just as much, if not more, precedent than growing as a basketball player.
"It has been an incredible two years working with our staff," Gray said. "Everyone involved has been really helpful for my growth both professionally and personally. I learn something new from them every day simply by spending time so much time together. We work extremely hard at developing relationships with each other. We work well as a group, we complement each other, and genuinely enjoy being around each other."
With the staff about to embark on its first, true offseason with everyone together – the team was still being assembled during the summer of 2019 and 2020's offseason was wiped out altogether between the tornado that ravaged Middle Tennessee and Putnam County and the COVID-19 pandemic – Gray will take on his first career assistant coaching role after spending the past two seasons on the operations side of things.
"I'm most excited to have that opportunity to get on the practice floor and help our guys learn and get better," Gray explained. "That's where so much work is put in and I'm looking forward to working with them every day."
Prior to his arrival in Cookeville, Gray served on staff at the University of Alabama for four seasons, including the final three with Pelphrey (the Crimson Tide's associate head coach from 2016-19). His role as director of player development spanned his final two seasons in Tuscaloosa.
During those two seasons, he was responsible for the monitoring and coordination of the student-athletes' complete schedules, both on and off the court. Gray also assisted the coaching staff in-game preparation, video evaluation, and player development edits, while aiding in the formulation of game plans and scouting reports, among other duties.
Before taking over as the director of player development, he spent two seasons as a graduate manager for the Alabama program, where he played a role in film breakdown, opponent scouting, overseeing managers, recruiting mail outs and other duties as assigned by the coaching staff.
Gray was no stranger to the Crimson Tide program, serving for four years as a student manager, including his last two seasons as one of the team's head managers. In that role, Gray helped coordinate schedules for practice times and individual workouts. He was also in charge of scheduling, practice set up, and anything else assigned by the coaching staff.
During the summer of 2013, Gray embarked on an internship at Nike Headquarters where he worked primarily with the Jordan Brand Global marketing team.
The Huntsville, Ala., native earned both his undergraduate and master's degrees from Alabama, receiving his bachelor's in accounting in 2014 and his master's in sports management in 2015. Gray completed a second master's degree in marketing analytics, graduating in May of 2017.
Photo by Jim Dillon