Allisha Gray's Olympics Opportunity is One of Many Firsts
Allisha Gray has had a career of firsts. She helped South Carolina win its first women’s basketball national championship in 2017, was a first-round pick in the WNBA draft that year by the Dallas Wings, and was the first former Gamecock to earn WNBA Rookie of the Year honors. Now, she’s a part of USA Basketball’s first women’s 3×3 team that will compete in the Olympics next month in Tokyo.
“It’s awesome to be able to go to the Olympics to win a real gold medal,” Gray said. “It’s something I’ve always dreamed of, and to have the opportunity to compete for a gold medal is a dream come true!
Gray has been part of USA basketball since 2018 when she was selected as part of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team pool. The WNBA star has excelled on the 3×3 court and was the MVP at the 2021 Big Twelve International in Voiron, France, where she led USA to a first-place finish. She also led the team in scoring at the FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Austria in May, helping the Americans earn the No. 1 spot in FIBA’s rankings.
“When I was asked to play on the 3×3 team and be able to go to the qualifier tournament, it was a no-brainer for me,” Gray said. “Now to be named to the Olympic team is just amazing!”
Gray is joined on the team by Stefanie Dolson (Chicago Sky/UConn), Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces/ Washington), and Katie Lou Samuelson (Seattle Storm/UConn).
“That’s the plan: go to the Olympics and win a gold medal.”
“We complement each other well,” Gray said. “We know each other’s games and the spots we like on the court.
“You have to be in great shape. 3×3 is a whole different level of cardio. We all played in the Olympic Qualifier Tournament and in another tournament before the Olympic Qualifier, so our chemistry is there, and we’ll continue to carry it into Tokyo.”
While her former college coach Dawn Staley and former college teammate A’ja Wilson will be with the regular 5×5 USA Basketball team at the Olympics, Gray is excited to be part of the 3×3 game in its Olympics debut.
“Basketball is basketball. There’s really no difference,” Gray said. “The biggest thing is making sure I’m in good cardio shape because 3×3 is a fast-paced game. The biggest difference is the cardio, the pace of the game, and the physicality. They don’t call any fouls in 3×3!”
The 3×3 game is played on a half court, with every made basket inside the arc worth 1 point and made baskets from behind the arc are worth 2 points. The game is played in a single 10-minute period, and the first team to score 21 points or the team that leads after the 10-minute clock expires is the winner. There is also a 12-second shot clock.
Although soft spoken and somewhat shy off the court, her Twitter handle @Graytness_15 reflects her basketball career. In helping South Carolina win the 2017 NCAA Championship, Gray was named to the Final Four All-Tournament Team and averaged 16.5 points per game while shooting 57% from the floor for the entire NCAA tournament.
In addition to Wilson, she joins Shannon Johnson (United States, 1996), Ilona Burgrova (Czech Republic, 2012) and Iva Sliskovic (Croatia, 2012) on the list of former Gamecocks to play basketball at the Olympics, but she’ll be the first to do in the 3×3 competition.
“We just want to bring our best ‘A-game’ in every day,” Gray said. “We just want to be able to compete and hopefully come out with a gold medal. That’s the plan: go to the Olympics and win a gold medal.”
The Olympic Games in Tokyo get started on begin on July 23 with 3×3 basketball games being played July 24-28.