By Brendan David Schultz
If you attended a high school basketball game at Wauwatosa East in 1983, chances are you were there to see the varsity team. If you happened to arrive at the gym early enough to catch the freshman and junior varsity games, you would have been witness to two Tosa East students getting a jump-start on their careers. During the freshman game, a young Tony Smith could be seen working on his basketball skills as he prepared for a three year varsity career at Tosa East. During the junior varsity game, you would be treated to a young Jeff Grayson working on his broadcast ability while he announced the game. Grayson, a senior, and Smith, a freshman, would share this one year at Wauwatosa East, but this would not be the last time that their paths crossed.
There is a deep tradition that surrounds the Wauwatosa East basketball program. With state championships in 1989 and 2008 and three former players who went on to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA), Tosa East has built a basketball program with a very rich history. When thinking of Tosa East’s basketball tradition, it is impossible to leave out former players such as Tny Smith, Devin Harris and Jerry Smith; all three of whom went on to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA) after playing for the Red Raiders. From Jerry Smith, who had a cup of coffee in the league in 2012 with the New Jersey Nets, to Devin Harris, who is currently in his second stint with the Dallas Mavericks, the man who paved the way from Wauwatosa East High School to the NBA was Tony Smith.
Charles Anton “Tony” Smith attended Wauwatosa East from 1982-1986. While Smith participated in basketball, volleyball and track as a Red Raider, it was on the basketball court that he truly shined. He earned first team all-state honors and holds the record for most field goals in a season, as well as ranking third all-time for most points in a season and fifth in total career points. Smith’s number, 34, was retired in 2007 by Wauwatosa East, and he was named to the inaugural class of the Wauwatosa East Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015.
During his time at Tosa East, Smith was recruited by Mar- quette University and their head coach, Rick Majerus. Majerus ultimately left Marquette to be an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks, but Smith decided Marquette was still the right fit for him. It was at Marquette that Smith was able to catch the eye of NBA scouts and make a name for himself nationally. In his sophomore year, Smith led the Warriors in scoring with 13.1 points per game. He progressively got better and was named captain of the team his senior season, leading the team in scoring that season with 23.8 points per game.
After his senior season, he was named an All-American and was named to the All-Midwestern Collegiate Conference first team. Smith was able to put his signature on the Marquette basketball program and his name can be found all over the Marquette record books. He is first all-time for scoring average in a season with 23.8 points, third in all-time three point field goal percentage after shooting 42.9% in his career and is in the top ten all-time for field goals made, free throws made, assists and steals.
Smith is tied for most points scored in a game for Marquette after he dropped 44 points on in-state rival Wisconsin and he holds the record for most points at the Bradley Center after scoring 43 against Butler his senior year. In September of 2006, Smith was inducted into the Marquette Athletic Hall of Fame.
After a very successful college career , Smith was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 51st pick of the 1990 NBA Draft. It was there that he was able to play with the likes of James Worthy, Byron Scott, and Ervin “Magic” Johnson. In his rookie season the Lakers made it to the NBA Finals, only to fall to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Smith wound up playing for the Lakers for five seasons, producing his best numbers in the ‘93-‘94 season when he averaged 8.8 points per game while playing in 73 games. Smith was able to play nine seasons in the NBA, suiting up for the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Charlotte Hornets, and brief stints with the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks. Smith also played professional basketball in the Continental Basketball Association, American Basketball Association, Spain, Italy and the Dominican Republic.
While Smith was off making a name for himself playing basketball, Jeff “Josh” Grayson was hard at work climbing the sports media ladder. Fromkindergarten on, Grayson knew what he wanted to do with his life; either be the next Johnny Carson or cover sports on television. Brent Musburger on The NFL Today, which was the first National Football League pre-game show, made an impression on him at a young age. Grayson was also heavily influenced by being around local sports teams and sports figures. His father was an advertising executive who was ahead of his time when it came to companies tying their products to sports. Because of this, Grayson was able to get tickets to Bucks and Brewers games, as well as attend Packers games in Milwaukee with his family’s tickets. Grayson was able to hang out in Rollie Fingers’ home as a child and even sat down for dinner one night with Don Sutton.
Having his career picked out since kindergarten afforded Grayson the oppor- tunity to work on his craft starting at an early age. At Wauwatosa East, Grayson did the morning announcements, wrote for The Cardinal News and announced the junior varsity basketball games. It was during this time announcing the basketball games that he came up with the idea for JV Today, a segment that he would do at halftime where he would conduct an interview with a player or coach for the entire gym to hear.
After high school, Grayson went on to attend the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), where he majored in mass communication. His father advised him he needed to get his foot in a door if he ever wanted to work in sports. Grayson began calling local high school games for Viacom, even calling baseball games of a young Craig Counsell at Whitefish Bay. In between his sophomore and junior years at UWM, Grayson applied to work at Channel 6 in Milwaukee. When applying for the job, Grayson told the station he was willing to do anything; mop floors, sweep floors, take out the garbage, etc.
The stations program director gave him 20 hours a week as an associate producer, which was basically a glorified internship. It was Grayson’s willingness to do anything that allowed him to work his way up to sports producer. After three and a half years, Grayson realized he was going to have to go to a different market to get out from behind the camera. He landed an on-air gig in Green Bay at WBAY, where he was the number three sports anchor.
After another three and a half years, Grayson took a job in Minneapolis at KMSP with the hopes of working his way back toMilwaukee to cover the teams he grew up watching. In 1995, just before turning 30, Grayson was promoted to be the main sports anchor at KMSP.Unfortunately, KMSP made some changes in 2005 and Grayson found himself out of work. He filled the time working various jobs for the Minnesota Vikings, Wild and Timberwolves.
At the same time, Grayson continued to work in communications to keep his name out there. In the summer of 2007, Fox Sports North gave him a call, as they were looking for a Milwaukee native who lived in Minnesota to be the studio host for Brewers and Bucks away games. It was a dream come true for Grayson, who grew up watching these teams and had hoped to return to Wisconsin to cover them. He handles the pre and post- game studio analysis for Bucks and Brewers to this day on Fox Sports Wisconsin (formerly Fox Sports North).
After retiring from professional basketball, Tony Smith went back to Marquette to get his degree in mechanical engineering and organizational leadership. During this time, Smith began to work for ESPN Radio in Milwaukee and for Time Warner Sports, where he was a color analyst for local high school games.
This is where the paths of the two former Red Raiders came together once again. Tony Smith wound up joining the Fox Sports Wisconsin crew in 2008 as a Bucks analyst. Smith is now in his eight season covering the Bucks for Fox Sports Wisconsin, while Grayson is in his ninth season covering the Bucks and next year will be his 10th covering the Brewers.
Although the two took dramatically different paths to the broadcast booth, one through professional basketball and one working his way up the sports media ladder, both men wound up working for the same television station covering their home town teams.