The quest to become great requires a person to be self-motivated. Allisha Gray is that. The former Gamecock returned to school shortly after winning a national championship under Dawn Staley to keep a promise. But she's also not resting on her laurels.
Last year she was one USC's key players in their national championship run. She left college early to start a pro career. After being selected fourth overall in the 2017 WNBA Draft by the Dallas Wings. She would become rookie of the year.
"As the season got going I was in contention for rookie of the year so I was like 'ok, I'm going to keep working and working'. Then when I actually won rookie of the year. It was exciting and definitely an honor," Gray said after a morning workout at South Carolina's practice facility.
Winning the award hasn't shaken the focus of Gray wanting to become better and fulfill a promise to her parents.
For most professional female basketball players this is a time of year where they are playing overseas earning money and playing against good competition before the WNBA season begins. No doubt she would have received a lucrative overseas deal but Allisha turned that down because she's a woman of her word.
"I had to make a promise to parents that after my first year I had to come back and finish my degree. With my major being broadcast journalism in order to graduate you to have complete something called senior semester where in the journalism school from 9 to 5 and it's like a news show. In order for me to graduate I actually had to be in the class to actually get me degree. So with my parents and my promise I made the promise to come back and finish."
Allisha made that decision just hours before the WNBA draft deadline. She had six hours to decide after returning from South Carolina's national championship victory over Mississippi State. That decision has led to another passion. Television. She enoys all the aspects of broadcast journalism and it's also pushing her out of her comfort zone.
"At first I was like I strictly want to be behind the camera in the control room, producing shows , directing shows-that's it but on the sports side," Gray said. "But then as I got to senior semester being in that class is slowly opening up my shell where I'm able to talk more, be in front of the camera and now being an anchor I'm like, 'hey it's not that bad after all'. It's definitely a fun class for me."
With a full day of classes she still makes the time to sharpen her basketball skills while other pros are also training and playing in leagues all over the world. That's where fellow former Gamecock and NBA Hall Of Famer Alex English comes in.
Alex started training Allisha's college and Wings teammate Kaela Davis last season as Davis worked her way out of shooting slump. The two connected and Alex sees the drive Allisha has to be great.
"Getting up at five in the morning and working out at six is not easy but she's dedicated and I'm willing to put the time in because she's going to be a good player," English said. "She may be one of the best one day. We don't know. Time will tell."
In time Allisha is on target to earn her degree in May. With all the accolades she's received Allisha still has the drive to improve in and outside of the classroom. One shot at a time.
"Her day is consumed with basketball and books-her classes," English added. "Pretty soon she'll be getting ready for training camp so we're kind of ramping up for that but she's put the time in and that's about the passion too. The passion to want to exceed and to be better than just good. She wants to be the best."
Allisha will enter year number two with Dallas Wings this summer. After participating in Team USA's training camp in February we may see her playing in the Olympics or even doing some reporting on Dawn's squad in Tokyo in 2020.