**Story by Jeff Owens/Photo by SC Media Relations**
Guards Allisha Gray and Kaela Davis, who helped lead South Carolina to the women's national championship, are both leaving the program to enter the WNBA draft, head coach Dawn Staley confirmed Tuesday.
"They are going pro. They have entered the WNBA draft," Staley told reporters after returning from Dallas, where her team beat Mississippi State for the national championship Sunday night.
"They both have aspirations to play pro, and we are happy that we gave them a platform to raise their stock in the draft, and they felt like this is the best time for them to go."
Gray and Davis, both transfers from ACC schools, played huge roles in the postseason for South Carolina, which lost senior center Alaina Coates to an ankle injury in the NCAA tournament. Davis was the Most Outstanding Player of the Stockton Region, scoring 52 points in two games to help the Gamecocks advance to the Final Four. Gray was also a double-figure scorer and one of South Carolina's leading rebounders throughout the NCAA Tournament.
"Obvioulsy, it is bittersweet," Staley said. "We felt we had a really good thing going on and we could do some things next year, but it's God's plan. It's God's plan and I am not going to question it at this point when I have a national championship net around my neck."
The WNBA Draft will be held on Thursday, April 13 in New York. Neither player has hired an agent yet, and could conceivably change their mind, but Staley doesn't see that happening.
"We discussed all those possibilities," she said. "As of last night, they both said they would not hire an agent. I don't know what can happen between now and five days, but they do have five days to decide if they are going to hire an agent and once they do that, there's no coming back."
The Gamecocks will return All-American forward A'ja Wilson and starting guards Tyasha Harris and Bianca-Cuevas Moore. Staley said the loss of Gray and Davis will hurt, but she believes the team has enough to talent to continue to succeed.
"You lose two incredible people in your backcourt who have experience and helped us win a national championship, but the cupboards aren't bare," she said. "We have Biana Cuevas with have Dinoyah Cliney and two guards coming in and another one who can swing to the guard position.
"So the cupboards aren't bare, but certainly losing two players of their caliber, you are going to get hit pretty hard with it. But I'm glad it's now instead of midway through the season. It's not like an injury, you don't have time to plan for."
Wilson said she hates to lose her two teammates.
"It's tough. Allisha and Kaela both brought great minutes and great buckets for us," she said. "I know the coaching staff has recruited great girls to come in and fill those shoes, even though they are big shoes. They contributed so much to us, both on and off the court.
"I love those girls, they are my sisters and appreciate everything they did for the program. They are living out their dream, and that's what I wanted for them. Their goal was a national championship, and who wouldn't want to leave on that? They made the right decision for themselves and I am excited to see their career."