ROME TOWNSHIP, Ohio — “If you can’t beat them, join them” took on new meaning for Gunner Short.
The former Fairland and Boyd County high schools basketball star is transferring from the University of Rio Grande to WVU Tech.
“They beat us four times in the last two years,” Short said of the Golden Bears. “They’re all business. They’re respectful. They don’t (trash) talk. It’s a different mentality.”
A 6-foot-4 sophomore guard, led Rio Grande in scoring at 17.3 points per game in earning second-team All-River States Conference honors. He averaged 3.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.0 steals per game. Short missed six games because of a knee injury that also will sideline him in the 2020-2021 season. Short plans to undergo surgery soon to repair cartilage damage.
“I’ll use it as a red-shirt year,” Short said. “I’d have had to sit out anyway as a transfer within the conference. I’ll come back as a junior and have two years to play.”
Short, who said he plans to major in information systems, chose WVU Tech over offers from Lourdes, Notre Dame (Ohio), Alderson Broaddus and others. He said he was impressed with Bears coach James Long, a former assistant at West Virginia University.
“He’s a new coach who has been there for a year and has been high on me,” Short said. “They called me a couple of days after I said I was going to transfer. He wants to win a national championship and he has a lot of connections overseas and such. I want to play basketball for as long as I can and I think he can help me do that.”
The head coach is important to Short. He was fond of former Rio Grande coach Ken French and had attended his camps since elementary school. When French was let go on Feb. 28 after 14 season as head coach of the RedStorm, Short opted to transfer. Short said he hopes this is his last stop.
“I’ve been three different places in four years,” said Short, who transferred from Fairland to Boyd County for his senior season, then signed with Rio Grande. “I’m trying to find a home.”
On Nov. 2, Short scored a game-high 11 points in NCAA Division II Rio Grande’s 92-59 exhibition game loss at Marshall. Short said he enjoyed playing against NCAA Division I competition.
“That was a blast,” Short said. “That was a game a lot of my family came to see. We played against Ohio, too, and that was fun.”