The University of Delaware has plucked a basketball player from the transfer portal who’ll be no stranger to the Blue Hens, one of them in particular.
Christian Ray was La Salle’s leading rebounder during the 2021-22 season with 6.9 per game. The 6-foot-6 swing guard had season highs of 14 points and 16 rebounds in the Explorers’ overtime loss at Delaware.
Ray’s move to Delaware reunites him with former Haverford School teammate Jameer Nelson Jr., who was third-team All-Colonial Athletic Association in his first season at Delaware in 2021-22 after transferring from George Washington. Delaware had recruited Ray when he was at Haverford.
La Salle went 11-19 last season, leading to the dismissal of coach Ashley Howard. He was replaced by La Salle alumnus Fran Dunphy, the former Penn and Temple head coach.
But Ray said he’d decided to look elsewhere before the coaching change after playing 84 games with 52 starts in three years at La Salle. He averaged 5.5 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.
“They were a great three years,” Ray said, “but didn’t necessarily feel right and with that extra COVID year [2020-21 doesn’t count against eligibility] it gives me the opportunity to re-set.”
Ray has two seasons of eligibility left. Before choosing Delaware, he also considered Rice, Duquesne, Bowling Green and returning to La Salle.
“I knew [Delaware associate head coach] Bill Phillips from when he recruited me in high school so there was trust there,” Ray said. “I was born in Christiana Hospital and lived in Newark until I was 3 while my dad [Scott] was getting his MBA from Delaware, so it’s a little bit of a homecoming. Coach [Martin] Ingelsby and his staff, on my visit, made it feel like home.
“And, of course, the obvious reason, my best friend goes there, plays there,” he added, referring to Nelson.
Ray is also familiar with Delaware’s Jyare Davis, the Sanford School graduate, from having played against him in the Wilmington Police Athletic League.
“Since I’m so close with Jameer, I’m just familiar with the guys,” Ray said of his future UD teammates. “I’m just excited to play with all of them.”
Nelson and Davis are the top two returning players from a Delaware team that won the CAA Tournament as the fifth seed to earn the sixth NCAA Tournament berth in school history. Another key returning player, Andrew Carr, however, is exploring other options via the transfer portal.
A resident of Gap, Pennsylvania, in Lancaster County, Ray attended Octorara High before transferring to the Haverford School in 10th grade. Ray is a finance and accounting major who was Big 5 Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2021.
During his three La Salle seasons, Ray had 13 games in which he scored in double figures and 11 in which he had double-digit rebounds. He had four double-doubles, including the one last season at Delaware.
“The thing I hang my hat on is my versatility,” Ray said. “I’m a little bit bigger at 6-6, so I play on the wing, but even in the A-10 I was a little bit bigger for some of the wings. I’m sure in the CAA I’ll be a little bit bigger.
“I hung my hat on rebounding and defending at La Salle. I think offensively speaking I didn’t really tap into who I could have become. I’m never gonna be someone who is high volume, gets a bunch of shots up. But I do think I have a lot more offensively to give and I’m hoping that under coach Ingelsby I can continue to rebound and defend but also grow offensively.”
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This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Blue Hens basketball gets Christian Ray from Atlantic 10’s La Salle