Don't just call Ramstein's Fraley a hustle guy on the court
By GREGORY BROOME | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 6, 2018
It’s easy to reduce a player such as Ramstein senior Gabe Fraley to a basketball caricature: the hard-nosed, floor-burned glue guy who sets the screens, takes the charges, dives for the loose balls, and extends a hand to teammates on the floor. The kind of player who makes the right pass and offers the first high-five, who is the first to arrive in the gym and the last to leave it.
It’s not that Fraley doesn’t do those things. But to shoehorn Fraley into that well-worn, heart-and-hustle stereotype does a disservice to the player’s considerable ability.
Fraley produces very tangible stats and highlights to pair with the cliched intangibles listed above, transcending mere scrappiness to reach a more refined level of all-around impact. On Tuesday, in a largely underwhelming 67-61 season-opening defeat of Wiesbaden, he offered all of the above.
Fraley finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, offering the kind of box-score production that winning teams require at least as much as they need valiant displays of desire and determination. He hit key jumpers, converted tough finishes at the hoop, won possessions on the boards, prodded opposing guards into turnovers and dished out precise passes to cutting teammates.
It’s plays like those, comprised of equal parts effort, moxie and technical skill, that fully demonstrate Fraley’s value to the Royals. That, and the fact that he’s helped the Royals to three DODEA-Europe Division I championships in as many seasons, with designs on a fourth this February.
“He’s the epitome of a Ramstein Royal,” head coach Andrew O’Connor said.
Fraley, meanwhile, credits O’Connor with pushing him to “another level every season” of his career.
“I’ve just progressed my game,” Fraley said. “He puts me in a better position to be a better player.”
That process has reached a point where Fraley has become one of the best players in DODEA-Europe. Not just one of the hardest workers, or one of the most supportive teammates, or one of the most inspirational senior leaders. Simply one of the best players, inclusive of all those traits.
“I do pride myself on being able to do everything on the court,” Fraley said. “I don’t pride myself on just offense. I love to play defense, I love to get my players the ball, I love to do everything on the court.
“I enjoy all of it.”