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Allisha Gray Encourages Others to Be Great
Women's Basketball  . 

Allisha Gray Encourages Others to Be Great

by Brad Muller, Director of Content

South Carolina celebrates Women’s History Month by catching up with current and former Gamecocks who have achieved greatness in and out of their sport. 

Allisha Gray has done a lot of great things with little fanfare. The former South Carolina women’s basketball standout and current WNBA star appropriately has the long-held Twitter handle @Graytness_15, and she encourages all student-athletes, and women in particular, to keep chasing their dreams of doing something great.

“You can’t let anyone tell you want you can and can’t do,” Gray said. “You control your life. You’re going to have people who are going to try to doubt you and try to discourage you from what you’re doing in the path of life you’re following. At the end of the day, you’re in control of your life. Do whatever you want to do!”
Gamecocks guard Allisha Gray (10) drives to the basket. Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sport
While she is serious about her profession on the court, Gray is still a kid at heart and enjoys social interaction with fans and anyone else who enjoys video games by putting herself out there on a live-streaming platform.

“I play video games. I stream on Twitch,” Gray said. “That’s what I do when I’m not playing basketball. People watch you play video games, and you interact with them with a chat. It’s a wide following.

“I’m laid back and chill, but when you say something that sparks my interest, then I’d like to have a conversation with you. I play NBA2K. I play Madden. I play Call of Duty. I play a wide variety of games. I do have some Carolina fans that follow me.”

Gray didn’t start here career as a Gamecock as she played her first two seasons at North Carolina, scoring more than 1,000 points for the Tar Heels. She earned Full Court Freshman All-America honors in 2014 and was a First Team All-ACC and WBCA Honorable Mention All-America in 2015.

After sitting out the next season due to NCAA transfer rules, Gray made an immediate impact for the garnet and black, starting 36 of 37 games while helping the Gamecocks win the 2017 NCAA National Championship. Gray was second on the team in scoring with 13.2 points per game and ranked second with 93 assists and 48 steals. Gray is thankful for the opportunity to have played under head coach Dawn Staley.

“Coach Staley was one of the best players in the WNBA,” Gray said. “Being able to learn with her, everything she tells you; you might be like, this isn’t going to pertain to me later in life. Once you get out from under Coach Staley and you experience the pro life, you say, this is what Coach Staley was talking about! She prepares you to be a pro, and you’re definitely molded into a pro at the University of South Carolina.

“Even if I go for a while without talking with her, our relationship is good enough where we’re able to pick up exactly where we left off.”

On a South Carolina team loaded with future WNBA players, including A’ja Wilson, Alaina Coates, Kaela Davis, and Tyasha Harris, Gray was often quietly consistent and wasn’t always the recipient of national accolades because of the wealth of team talent, but she was OK with that. 

“I just play the game of basketball,” Gray said. “I’m kind of immune to being overlooked. I’m overlooked by the outside, but my team and coaches know what I can do. I don’t really care about what people think or say about me. My team knows my value. That’s all that matters!

“I’m pretty laid back. I’m the type that will just do what I need to do. I mind my business. I stay out of drama and stay out of trouble. I just focus on basketball. I know what kind of player I am and what I bring to the game.”

“The biggest adjustment was just the physicality of the game. The WNBA is a lot more physical.”

There were times when she was indeed recognized for greatness on the court. She was named to the All-Tournament team in both the Final Four and NCAA Regional, averaging 16.5 points and 8.3 rebounds during the postseason run. She was a big part of the Gamecocks NCAA semifinal win over Stanford, scoring 13 of her team-high 18 points in the second half to help erase a nine-point deficit.

“It was just a fun year, especially with having to take a year off due to NCAA transfer rules. The whole season was fun.

“It’s always just a cool memory to have.”
ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 20: Allisha Gray #15 of the Dallas Wings drives to the basket during the game against the Minnesota Lynx in a WNBA game on May 20, 2017 at College Park Center in Arlington, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photos by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images
Gray decided to forgo her final season of eligibility and was selected as the fourth overall pick in the first round of the 2017 WNBA Draft. Her success continued as a professional as she was named the league’s Rookie of the Year that season and has been a starter for most of her four seasons.

“It was definitely a tough decision coming off winning at national championship and having a chance to repeat, coming back with the same exact team,” Gray said of her decision to turn pro. “Growing up, I always loved basketball, and it was a goal and dream of mine to go to the WNBA. I’m just blessed.

“The biggest adjustment was just the physicality of the game. The WNBA is a lot more physical. In college, it’s 18 to 22-year-olds. Pro is 22 to 38-year-olds. You’re definitely playing against well-built, strong women.”

The 2020 season saw some new challenges and the WNBA brought all of its teams to one location due to the COVID-19 pandemic to play its entire season isolated in what became known as “The Wubble.”

“Just not having your family and friends there, that was probably the toughest part to me because at the end of the day, basketball is just basketball. For me, I was missing my family and friends.”

With all those former Gamecocks now in the WNBA, including Harris as her teammate on the Wings, Gray is proud of her alma mater.

“It speaks volumes of the women’s basketball program at the University of South Carolina. The proof is in the pudding. It’s evidence to what Dawn Staley has done with that program.”

Gray has also had experience playing with the USA Basketball National Team and was named to the 2020 USA Basketball 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Team.

Gray’s humbleness and quiet demeanor was endearing to South Carolina fans as she “hosted” a regular segment known as “Lunch with Lish” on the team’s social media channels during her time on campus, where she shared what the team was having for its pregame meals.

Gray earned her degree from the College of Journalism and Mass Communications in 2018, which she hopes to use some day when her playing career is over.

 “I’ll cross that path when we get there, but I definitely want to do something using my degree in broadcast journalism. People tell me I have the face for being in front (of the camera),” Gray said with her usual shy smile. “I’m comfortable being in front or behind the camera. Whatever it is, I’ll be willing to do it.”

Seeing how that same attitude has taken her far with basketball, Gray won’t have a problem finding success off the court in the future.