Over the last decade, South Carolina basketball has established itself as one of the premier programs in all of college basketball as head coach Dawn Staley has built a powerhouse in Columbia, South Carolina. The Gamecocks have won two national championships since 2017 (no one else has multiple titles in that span), and Carolina has been to four separate Final Fours (one shy of UConn’s five trips to the national semifinals). Staley’s squad also were the undisputed best team in the nation in 2020 when the season was cut short due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Coach Staley has built her program on the backs of elite talent as she has become, arguably, the top recruiter in college basketball, both from the high school and the transfer portal.
One of the top players that Staley has ever pulled from the transfer ranks was Allisha Gray. The Greenwood, South Carolina native began her career at North Carolina but transferred home for her final year of collegiate competition (plus a transfer redshirt in the pre-transfer portal days), a move that paid off big-time for the talented 6’0″ wing.
Gray put together her most complete season as a senior as she averaged her career-best in assists, blocks, and field goal percentage (by a wide margin) while still maintaining a similar scoring load as she had during her UNC days. More importantly, Gray was one of the top players on the South Carolina basketball squad that brought home the program’s first national championship in the 2016-2017 season as she and A’ja Wilson played at an even higher level in the NCAA Tournament to guide the Gamecocks to the title.
After her collegiate career, Gray was an instant star in the WNBA as the #4-overall pick in the WNBA Draft also won the Rookie of the Year award in her first season with the Dallas Wings.
Now, in her first year with the Atlanta Dream, the now 28-year old guard is still going strong. On Tuesday, Gray notched a huge 27-point, 10-rebound double-double and led a late comeback to bring the Dream an unlikely win over the Minnesota Lynx. Trailing by 19 toward the end of the 3rd quarter, an Atlanta run was capped off by a Gray 3-pointer that brought the score within one possession for the first time since the opening period. Late free throws gave the Dream the win, and Gray was the clear player of the game.
The Dream’s come-from-behind victory came at the expense of former Gamecock (and Gray’s South Carolina basketball teammate) Tiffany Mitchell who scored an efficient 10 points on 5-9 shooting and dished out 3 assists off the bench for Minnesota.