South Carolina has been the best women’s basketball team in the SEC for the past two years.
Why shouldn’t it try to take over another league?
Dawn Staley received another of the ACC’s top stars – her third of the offseason – on Friday when North Carolina leading scorer Allisha Gray pledged to join the Gamecocks. Gray, who announced Tuesday that she had been released from her UNC scholarship, quickly made up her mind in regard to her future home.
“We are excited that Allisha has decided to continue her collegiate career as part of the Gamecock women’s basketball family,” Staley said in a statement. “Her hard work and intensity on both ends of the floor will be a great addition to our team as we continue to compete for championships.”
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Gray led the Tar Heels with 15.2 points per game last year, a season that ended with a loss to the Gamecocks in the Sweet 16. She will have two seasons of eligibility after this year.
Gray’s transfer continues to gut what was the top recruiting class in the country in 2013. UNC signed Gray, Jessica Washington, Diamond DeShields and Stephanie Mavunga, but DeShields (Tennessee) departed after a National Freshman of the Year season and Washington (undecided) decided to go in May. Mavunga was given a release and permission to speak to other schools about a potential transfer a few hours after Gray was announced as a Gamecock.
With Gray, USC has filled its allotment of 15 scholarships for next year.
With Kaela Davis (Georgia Tech) and Sarah Imovbioh (Virginia) also transferring to USC, the Gamecocks have two members of last year’s first-team All-ACC squad and the conference’s leading rebounder.
Looking ahead, it’s feasible that USC could start Bianca Cuevas, Davis, Gray, A’ja Wilson and Alaina Coates in 2016-17 – or four McDonald’s All-Americans and another (Gray) that probably would have been had she not blown out a knee before her final prep season.
All five were ranked in the top 35 of ESPN’s HoopGurlz rankings in their respective classes. Davis, Gray and Wilson (No. 1) were in the top seven.
Gray, who is from Sandersville, Ga. (Washington County High School), is a 6-foot guard. Pulling down 8.2 rebounds per game in 2014-15, she was one of two players in the ACC to rank among the top 10 in both points and rebounds.
Included on midseason watch lists for the Naismith and Wooden Awards, Gray was the Tar Heels’ top outside threat, shooting 30.9 percent from 3-point range last season after netting 41.8 percent as a freshman. She earned second-team Freshman All-America honors from Full Court and was an ACC All-Freshman selection in 2013-14, finishing among the ACC’s top 20 scorers in helping the Tar Heels to the Elite Eight.
South Carolina women’s basketball, 2015-16
Doniyah Cliney, So.
Alaina Coates, Jr.
Shay Colley, Fr.
Bianca Cuevas, So.
Kaela Davis, RSo.*
Tiffany Davis, Jr.
Asia Dozier, Sr.
Kaydra Duckett, So.
India Farmer, Jr.
Allisha Gray, RSo.*
Sarah Imovbioh, Sr.
Tiffany Mitchell, Sr.
Tina Roy, Sr.
Khadijah Sessions, Sr.
Jatarie White, So.
A’ja Wilson, So.
*Ineligible to play this year