Kaela Davis talks WNBA
Just like old times.
Kaela Davis twisting through traffic at McCamish Pavilion as the fans cheered. Allisha Gray finding her on the break for a bucket. Plenty of teammates and fans, old and older, in the stands.
“You’ve got to tell yourself, ‘At the end of the day, it’s basketball. You’ve got to go out there and play basketball,’ ” Davis said. “From physicality, and obviously the speed of the game is so different, you’ve got to think, make decisions quicker. Everything you do in college is quicker here. It’s been a process, but I’m loving it.”
Davis and Gray, Georgia natives who grew up on many of the same teams and then reunited in college at South Carolina, returned to the Peach State as two of the newest members of the Dallas Wings. In the middle of their rookie seasons in the WNBA, they played the Atlanta Dream on Georgia Tech’s floor.
The result didn’t turn out well – the Dream smashed the Wings 98-78 – but Gray continued her run toward the WNBA Rookie of the Year award with 15 points and Davis supplied seven. For the season, Gray averages 12.6 points per game and has started every one while Davis averages 7.9 off the bench.
Davis began her college career on the same floor but transferred after feeling she couldn’t win a national championship with the Yellow Jackets. Gray went to North Carolina with the rest of a highly-rated recruiting class, played two years and also transferred.
The two committed to the Gamecocks, sat out the required year and suited up in 2016-17. They were integral parts of USC’s first national title and shortly after the nets came down in Dallas, Gray and Davis were headed back there as members of the professional team.
“It’s weird. Lot of old emotions and feelings I have coming back in and stepping on this floor, but they’re good ones,” Davis said. “I did a lot of growing up in this gym so I can definitely appreciate this place a lot.”
“We’ve been together basically all our basketball careers, so it’s fun having Kaela around,” Gray said.
The Wings shook up conventional WNBA thinking by keeping all five of their draft picks, combining them with a selected group of veterans in order to have a steady foundation for the future. Davis and Gray were picked for their dynamics, but also because of that championship they won in Dallas – the Wings, having started as the Detroit Shock and becoming the Tulsa Shock, are in their second season and wanted some big-game experience.
Finding a pair of guards who had that built-in chemistry was a boon. Gray immediately took over a starting role and won the first two WNBA Rookie of the Month awards while Davis has been a vital role player.
“It’s nice to turn and see a familiar face in such an unfamiliar territory,” Davis said. “It’s nice to see somebody that you’ve been through a lot with. We sat out together, won a national championship together.”
The Gamecocks only had them on the court for a year but relished their impacts. Davis and Gray were large reasons why USC overcame the loss of Alaina Coates (also a WNBA draft pick, but who hasn’t played because of the injury she suffered during the season) to win the championship.
It’s been a whirlwind of activity, from playing in the last game to submitting for the draft and then being picked, then being sent right off to training camp. Each are becoming used to it, but again going through the process together.
“I’m enjoying it. It’s basketball,” Gray said. “I signed up for this all my life so now it’s my job and I love doing it.”
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