The Draft Dimension: Kaela Davis and Allisha Gray’s impact

DALLAS, TX - APRIL 2: Kaela Davis
DALLAS, TX - APRIL 2: Kaela Davis /

Some would argue the 2017 WNBA Draft, slated for next Thursday, lacks the luster of last year’s festivities.

However, a pair of South Carolina standouts are primed to sweeten the first round. Kaela Davis and Allisha Gray will skip their fifth year of eligibility and suit up for the draft. The choice is hard to argue after winning a national championship last weekend, but there was little foreboding.

“I was surprised that they declared, and not because of their readiness,” LaChina Robinson said during a pre-draft conference call with media.  “Just more so of what South Carolina put on the floor this season…winning a national championship, and I thought they would have a great chance to do the same next year.”

DALLAS, TX – APRIL 02: Kaela Davis
DALLAS, TX – APRIL 02: Kaela Davis /

Davis and Gray played just one season with the Gamecocks, but what a season it was. Davis introduced herself to the South Carolina crowd with authority, scoring a season-high 37 points in a win over Ohio State. She finished the year averaging 12.7 points per game, but that figure masks her explosive potential as a scorer. Starting her college career at Georgia Tech, Davis became the fastest player in that school’s history to reach 1,000 points. Her 6-foot-2-inch frame offers multiple options on either side of the floor.

“She’s explosive, she can get to the rim when she wants. She comes from basketball pedigree, obviously, with her dad having played in the NBA. ” Robinson said. “If she stays healthy and continues to get better, she’ll be an All-Star one day in the league.”

DALLAS, TX – APRIL 02: Allisha Gray
DALLAS, TX – APRIL 02: Allisha Gray /

Gray also passed the 1,000-point milestone in her two seasons at North Carolina before crossing the state line. At South Carolina, efficiency was her best display. Gray’s field goal clip was 51 percent, the highest of her college career. In NCAA tournament play, she scored 11 points or more in every game and never went below 40 percent from the floor.

Another asset in Gray’s favor is her rising court awareness. This year, she posted an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.7, also the highest in her college career. She likely won’t rack up dimes at the rate of traditional point guards, but her passing ability could help whoever drafts her function more effectively on offense. Gray also brings some height at 6 feet.

“I was really impressed with the way she played, especially in the NCAA tournament, filling in at the power forward spot when Alaina Coates was out,” Robinson said. “She’s also gotten into better shape physically, which allows her to play in different places on the floor.”

A WNBA talent evaluation suggested Davis and Gray could be chosen anywhere from fourth through seventh overall. The latest projection from DraftSite has Gray in the second slot, where Chicago will pick, and Davis at seventh, where Atlanta sits.

Pinpointing who goes where is a tricky assignment, but both players could get strong consideration from Dallas and San Antonio. San Antonio holds the first and fifth picks in the first round, while Dallas has the third and fourth picks.

The Stars are in need of a serious refit after a 7-27 record last year. They also traded Danielle Robinson to Phoenix, so bolstering depth at guard would be a welcome proposition. The Wings could also use help at guard after trading Odyssey Sims to the Sparks.

“One of those players, Gray or Davis, could help, depending on how Aerial Powers comes along. I know she’s coming off injury and expected to be ready to go, but it doesn’t hurt to have some security there,” Robinson said.

Of course, team personnel won’t identify preferences at this stage, but the pedigree of the aforementioned athletes appeals to the Dallas front office.

“What we want to accomplish is to find the players that can fulfill our need on the defensive end,” said Wings head coach Fred Williams. “The other thing is we’re looking at players…who are really pro ready, to come on in and really help us right away.”

If their quick adjustment to South Carolina is an indication, Davis and Gray are prepared for the professional ranks.