Allisha Gray Adds Gaming to Basketball Repertoire
Allisha Gray could be called a competition junkie.
When the 2017 WNBA Rookie of the Year isn’t on the basketball court, you can often find her playing a variety of video games. In the past year, she has become a streamer and joined a gaming team.
At the moment, though, Gray is in basketball mode. First, she is competing in the USA Basketball Women’s 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Team training camp through March 30. Then she immediately will transition to the USA National Team camp that goes through April 2. Both are being held in San Antonio.
Gray, Stefanie Dolson, Kelsey Plum and Katie Lou Samuelson comprise the U.S. team that will take part in the May 26-30 FIBA 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Graz, Austria. The Americans will need a top-three finish in the 20-team field (split into four, five-team groups) to advance to this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, where the sport will make its debut. Samuelson is not at this camp as her Spanish EuroLeague team, Perfumerias Avenida, is still in the playoffs.
“We want to build as much chemistry as possible because in May, we want to be able to help the USA qualify for the Olympics,” said Gray, a 6-foot guard for the Dallas Wings. “That’s the main goal. Building chemistry over the next couple camps that we have is important.”
While Gray — who has participated in multiple USA National Team camps in recent years — has not played in an official 3x3 FIBA competition, she says her game should fit right into the demands of 3x3, which calls for a quick transition from offense to defense.
“I think what I bring is my overall game,” said Gray, who has averaged 11.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.3 steals per game over four seasons with the Wings. “I’m able to create my shot and also play defensive on multiple-size people as well.”
Gray originally got into gaming as a kid, and she often can be found either on a PC keyboard or her Xbox.
“I have three siblings,” Gray said, “but before my younger sister (Ashley) was born — I have a younger brother (A.J.) and an older brother (Marlo East) — that was just my way of bonding with them ‘cause at the time, I was the only girl and the boys didn’t play with baby dolls. So, me learning to play video games was a way that I was able to bond with my brothers.”
Now, Gray uses video games as a way to kick back after hoops. Just when COVID-19 shut everything down a year ago, Gray was invited to participate in NBA 2K League Three for All Showdown, an all-female 3x3 tournament of professional “NBA 2K” gamers, social influencers and others.
That event led a friend to convince Gray to start streaming on Twitch (her page is Twitch.tv/graytness15), and she has more than 450 followers. Currently, her big game is Call of Duty: Warzone, but her repertoire also includes Madden and Fortnite.
“I like it a lot,” Gray, an NCAA champion at South Carolina in 2017, said of streaming. “It helps me with my people skills and being able to talk to people, because I’m not much of a big talker. I’m more quiet. On the stream, it’s a comfortable place for me to be myself and kind of engage with various people in my chat.”
Recently, San Diego Chargers running back Austin Ekeler reached out and asked Gray to join the Gridiron Gaming Group, which brings more high-profile opportunities to stream as well as a new group of followers.
“He hit me up, and I’m like, ‘How did you find my stream?’ It was pretty cool,” she said. “He asked me if I wanted to join his gaming crew, and I was like, ‘Definitely.’ It’s pretty cool, and I’m the first female to join his crew.”
For the moment, though, streaming is taking a hiatus as she participates in the 3x3 and WNT camps, with an eye on getting the U.S. to the Olympics in 3x3.
“It’s a big opportunity,” Gray said. “Being part of the first 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Team and being able to help USA Basketball qualify for the Olympics, then hopefully making the Olympic team so I can go to the Olympics, I mean that’s just a great opportunity. I’m honored anytime USA Basketball calls and wants you to be a part of what they’re doing.”