Not all prospective college athletes have the same priorities when picking a school.

For some, the top factor is early playing time, while others might focus on attending a school close to home or going to the one with the best facilities.

In Max Hurray’s case, his reasoning for making his college choice came down to “best fit.”

And really, it’s hard to imagine there being a better one.

Hurray, a senior guard at North Catholic and one of the WPIAL’s top scorers, committed to Coker University last week. He then announced it on social media on Sunday. Coker is located in Hartsville, S.C., and its athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division II level. Coker is guided by first-year coach Mike Lamberti, a South Fayette graduate who was an assistant at West Liberty the previous five seasons.

At North Catholic, Hurray is a 6-foot-2 sharpshooter with deep range who likes to push the ball for one of the WPIAL’s highest-scoring teams. Hurray has knocked down 37 3-pointers in 13 games (he missed three games with an injury) and is averaging 24.7 points a game for the Trojans (10-6 overall, 6-2 in Class 4A Section 2), who rank third in the WPIAL in scoring at 73.7 points a game. 

Meanwhile, Coker ranks fourth in all of Division II in scoring with 99.6 points per game. The Cobras are 11-8 overall and 7-4 in the South Atlantic Conference. 

“I really like the basketball program itself, the way they play being the fourth-highest scoring team and running a press similar to North’s,” Hurray said. “I like playing in that system and I like what [Lamberti is] building. I think we’ll be a top 10 team in a year or two. And I also like the school itself. I like the business program.”

Hurray had a Division I offer from UMass Lowell and said that Gannon and Air Force showed interest. Hurray was offered by Coker while on an unofficial visit to the school with his parents the weekend prior to him committing.

After helping West Liberty reach the Division II national title game last season, Lamberti was hired as head coach at Western Colorado in April. But a month later, Lamberti was named head coach at Coker.

“He likes my ability to shoot the ball,” Hurray said. “He likes my strength with my on-ball defense. And he likes that I already know the system.”

Hurray said that Lamberti actually began recruiting him when the latter was still at West Liberty. So when Lamberti took over at Coker, his pursuit of Hurray continued. Lamberti attended North Catholic’s game at Knoch on Dec. 21. Hurray responded by scoring 24 points while leading North Catholic to a 75-69 win.

“The crazy thing was I didn’t hit a 3-pointer, and that’s kind of what I’m known for,” Hurray said with a laugh.

Hurray averaged 17 points as a sophomore and 22 as a junior, earning all-section honors both seasons. Hurray was a second-team all-state pick in Class 4A last season when he helped North Catholic advance to the WPIAL championship game and PIAA quarterfinals. He surpassed 1,000 career points in last year’s postseason and currently has more than 1,300.

Like father, like son

Union’s Mike Gunn has decided to follow in his father’s footsteps after committing to play baseball at Slippery Rock.

A senior outfielder, Gunn has helped the Union baseball team win three section titles and two WPIAL titles in his career. His dad, also named Mike, is a Union graduate who played at Slippery Rock from 1997-2000. The older Gunn still ranks fourth in Slippery Rock history in home runs and fifth in RBIs.

“He always has wanted me to create my own path and make a name for myself,” young Mike said. “He has laid a great foundation and shaped me into a great man on and off the field, not only as a baseball player but as an athlete. The decision to commit there was on me and it’s where I wanted to be. I was aware my dad played there and he had records there, but at the end of the day, wherever I decided to go, he said, ‘I will support your decision,’ and that is where I wanted to be. My family was pretty excited when they got the news.”

Gunn said Slippery Rock had also recruited him to play football and that playing both in the future is a possibility.

Gunn’s family athletic ties extend beyond his dad. The younger Mike Gunn’s uncle, Joe, played baseball at California; Joe’s son, also named Joe, played baseball at Grambling State; and another of Joe’s sons, Aaron, plays football at James Madison.

Local eighth grader offered

For the second year in a row, a local eighth grader has been offered a scholarship by an FBS school, and it comes from the same school as the previous one.

Chrys Black, who attends Manchester Academy Charter School, received an offer from UNLV last week. Considering Black is just 14 years old and only halfway through his eighth grade year, this could be the earliest a local WPIAL or City League football player has ever received an FBS offer. Last April, UNLV extended an offer to local eighth grader Khalil Taylor, who went on to have an outstanding freshman season at Seton LaSalle. Black said he will choose between attending Seton LaSalle and Central Catholic next school year.

Black, a 5-foot-7, 161-pounder who plays running back, wide receiver and defensive back, has trained with DeWayne Brown since sixth grade.

“His football IQ is extremely high,” said Brown, who trains many of the area’s top players. “He sees plays before they happen. It’s almost like he’s moving in slow motion when he has the ball on defense. He can recover and he’s super explosive. I’ve never been around a kid this young that when you’re talking to him, it’s like he’s looking through you. That’s how he pays attention. He’s so good he could make plays in 6A football while he was in middle school.”

Baseball commitments

Belle Vernon’s Alex Nash (Allegheny); Canon-McMillan’s Will Taczak (Trine).

Basketball commitment

Greensburg Salem’s Ashlan Price (Allegheny).

Football commitments

Hampton’s Braeden Ballintine (California); Penn-Trafford’s Carmen Metcalfe (Slippery Rock); Seton LaSalle’s O’Malley Daly (Emory & Henry); South Fayette’s Nate Deanes (Edinboro); South Fayette’s Tim Haviland (California); Steel Valley’s Mike Crist (Slippery Rock); Steel Valley’s Carlos Scott (IUP); Western Beaver’s Dorian McGhee (California).

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Brad Everett

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at