Davis, Gray making immediate impact together in WNBA

Davis, Gray making immediate impact together in WNBA

**Story by Kyle Heck/photo provided by South Carolina Athletics Media Relations**

Allisha Gray was sitting in the WNBA Draft room with coach Dawn Staley on April 13, still trying to get over the fact that she was just taken with the fourth overall pick by the Dallas Wings. 

While still numb with excitement, Gray heard the announcement from outside that teammate Kaela Davis had just been taken with the 10th overall pick in the draft.

By the Dallas Wings.

"I was excited all over again for me and her to continue this rookie season together," Gray said.

Over a month into their professional careers, both Davis and Gray are making quite the impact for the Wings. As of June 6, Gray started every game, averaging 12.7 points per game (third on team) and 4.6 rebounds per game (second on team) while playing nearly 26 minutes per game. 

She wrapped up the fantastic debut month by being named the May WNBA Rookie of the Month.

"She's a pro," teammate Skylar Diggins-Smith said of Gray. "When you come into this league, a lot of people feel like they have to do things different, and she's really just been herself. We love the type of player that she is and where she comes from. She's fearless and someone that just attacks." 

Davis has been just as successful in the early stages of her professional career. She hadn't started a game as of June 6, but was fifth on the team with 9.4 points per game and tied for second with 1.7 assists per game. She was shooting nearly 46 percent from the field and 37.5 from the three-point line. 

Both players are part of a Dallas team that brought in a lot of new, young faces for this season. There hasn't been a lot of adjustment for Davis and Gray, which is not surprising to Dallas head coach Fred Williams. 

"These players in the draft were pretty much pro ready as far as their body structure and basketball IQ," Williams said. "I think they're going to do a great job for us to get us to another level. They're great kids."

It's no surprise that Davis and Gray were ready for the WNBA because their college coach at South Carolina was none other than Staley, a professional and international basketball legend. 

One of the most popular WNBA players of all time, Staley knows exactly what she needs to teach her players in college to become ready to be a professional. 

"They had a great teacher in Dawn Staley to get them prepared for the pro level," Williams said. "They pretty much understand the language that we're speaking in training camp and some of the things we're trying to do defensively."

So instead of struggling like most rookies do to start their careers, Davis and Gray have stepped right in to become important contributors on the Wings. Gray said it was a bit of an adjustment to get used to the physicality of the WNBA, but as Diggins-Smith noted, the key has been to stay true to your particular game.

"I don't try to do anything extra or anything flashy, I just play my game," Gray said.

Davis and Gray transferred to South Carolina at the same time, and they had to sit out a season together because of NCAA rules. That year of sitting out is tough for every player to go through, so the two transfers relied on each other to make it easier.

They were both pivotal pieces of the Gamecocks' run to the national championship, which was coincidentally won in Dallas. Davis carried South Carolina in the Stockton Regional while Gray was excellent on both sides of the ball in the Final Four.

After growing close during their time in Columbia, Davis and Gray are now helping each other out in the transition to professional basketball. 

"First time in training camp I'm all shy and I really don't talk that much," Gray said. "Once the team is finalized, I'm more open and I talk to everyone. (But) around training camp, Kaela was a big help to me." 

It didn't take long for Williams to discover the benefits of having two college teammates on his team. Along with being mature and ready for the WNBA, the two players have a connection with each other that can only come from playing day after day together.

"It's a great benefit," Williams said. "When you have players who really understand their tendencies on the floor, I see that with these two players in practice. If you can get two or three or four players, that's great, but having two really helps us, and I think it's making them feel comfortable together."