Reshanda Gray will be coming to Cal from Washington Prep in Los Angeles, where she averaged 19 points and 17 rebounds as a senior. The 6’3’’ McDonald’s All American immediately adds another elite rebounder to Cal’s collection of post players. But for Gray, basketball has been more than a game – it has been a lifeline:
A junior at Washington Prep, Gray says members of her family are in gangs and she was headed down the same path until her life took a turn a few years ago. That's when she met Tyrone Dinneen, the coordinator of an after-school program. Dinneen introduced Gray to basketball, and suddenly gangbanging didn't have quite the same allure. "If it weren't for basketball, I'd probably be dead or in jail," Gray says.
For hear about Reshanda's background listen to her directly in this excellent ESPN interview.
Gray didn’t waste the opportunity her basketball talent as afforded her, maintaining a high school GPA of 3.4 and steadily improving each year on the court. Her play earned her a spot on the McDonalds High School All-American team. It should also be noted that Gray has already made a huge assist to Cal's program - she helped nudge Justine Hartman to Berkeley!
But enough about gangs and grades and gushers – what kind of skills will Gray bring to the court? It's at this point that I would usually embed a bunch of highlight videos and give you my uneducated take. But I was unable to find a single video all over the whole wide internet of Reshanda in action. I suppose that's not particularly surprising, considering where she played her high school basketball. So we're going to have to rely on a few different written sources. First up, the ever reliable ESPN Hoop Gurlz
Physically, Gray is an imposing figure who pursues rebounds throughout the key area. There were several instances we spotted Gray outrunning post defenders in transition.
Her agility, speed and leaping ability live up to their visual billing and her strength exceeds all expectations. Add to that an active and energetic approach to the game and the sky is the limit.
Her game has continually advanced and there's no reason to believe that she won't continue to reach for that next level.
Side note: I've noticed that, thus far, every 2011 recruit has been singled out for their ability to score in transition. This class has all kinds of speed and quickness. And I'd argue that transition offense was easily the strength of Cal's offense last year. Push the ball, Bears!
Areas for improvement:
When regulated to the confines of the half-court game Gray's post movements were pre-arranged, not predicated on what the defense gives, but rather what she was comfortable executing
Her shot outside five feet and her ball handling are there but not effective on a consistent basis.
That her game is unrefined isn't particularly shocking, because Gray didn't pick up basketball essentially until high school. Most basketball recruits have been playing club basketball for years. It's worth noting that all of above analysis was done a year ago or older. Since then Gray completed her high school career by averaging 19.2 points and 17.1 rebounds. Seventeen point one. Those numbers fit with the general consensus on Gray, which is the following: She's an unbelievable, potentially dominating athlete who got a very late start to the sport. That late start and rough neighborhood probably would have deterred many others, but the reason Gray is an elite prospect is because she's combined that athleticism with a great attitude and a sterling work ethic. The improvement in her game from year to year have drawn plenty of attention:
The improvement in Gray's back-to-the-basket game would be worthy of most improved in the country if such awards were handed out at the high-school level.
And now she'll get to work with the coach who is widely credited with developing Ashley Walker and Devanei Hampton. Color me intrigued! Welcome to Cal, Reshanda!