Monday, September 29, 2014
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Reshanda Gray

Reshanda Gray is heading to Cal, but before she goes she wants to bring home the City title. Photo by Jason Lewis

Washington's Reshanda Gray signs with Cal

By Jason Lewis
Sports Editor
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Washington Prep star center Reshanda Gray has hit the big time. She was the City player of the year last season. She's headed for Cal with her 20 points and 15 rebounds per game averages, oh, and her 3.4 GPA. She's holding press conferences, and she was spotted on the sidelines of the big time Crenshaw/Dorsey game.

But there is one accomplishment that still eludes her.  That would be a City title.
"We haven't reached that yet, but we're working on it," Gray said. "Winning a city title, we've come really close. In the finals losing by two points close."

The game she was referring to was a 2-point loss to Marine League rivals Carson. Washington and Carson split their regular season games, and Washington went on to win the league title. But Carson beat Washington when it mattered the most, and Gray has been working hard to make sure that Washington not only beats out Carson, but every other team in the City.

"I want to win the City and go as far as possible in the state," Gray said. "We're like super close."

Besides a scholarship to a prestigious university like Cal, winning a City title would be the crowning achievement of a basketball career that started four years ago.

At a time when many kids who grew up around Gray can make the wrong choices, such as gangs and drugs, she chose basketball instead.

Gray had athletic abilities, but she had never played organized basketball. But Ricky Blackmon, Washington girl's basketball coach, noticed something in her when she first walked in the gym.
"I tell the story all the time about the first day she walked in the gym with her mom as a 9th grader," Blackmon said. "She walked up and shook my hand and the first thing I noticed was that her hand was bigger than mine. So it kind of wowed me at the potential that was there. I watched her shoot the ball a couple times and you could just see that something is there."

Gray hit her growth spurt in middle school, and now stands at 6'3". Blackmon was tempted to play her on the varsity team her freshman year, and he feels that they would have won more if he did, but he feels that he made the right decision in having her play on the JV team.

"In hindsight it kind of worked out best for her because she learned how to lead playing JV," Blackmon said. "She was the go-to person, and they ended up winning the JV City title. That was a great experience for her and that team."

From there Gray's hard work led her to being one of the top players in the nation. She is ranked 22nd and she played for the USC basketball under 18 team.

"She's worked, she gets after it," Blackmon said. "When she first came here a lot of it was raw physical ability, but now it's getting to the point where she's turning herself into a basketball player. At first she was just an athlete playing basketball, but now she's refined her skills, her jump shot, her ball handling. With her motor and how hard she works, when it all comes together it's special."

Gray is an aggressive player, and she uses her athletic abilities to her advantage at the center position.

"You have to be aggressive," Gray said. "Only, like, so many people can be down there because not everybody likes contact. You just have to be very physical."

Gray's biggest game was at the West Coast Jamboree in Oakland, where she scored 34 points and pulled down 21 rebounds.

Putting up big numbers helped her get into Cal, but Berkley is a school for smart kids, so her grades played an equal part in getting her in there. Gray puts the time into the books as much as she does into basketball.

"Just put aside time to do homework," Gray said. "I get as much help as I can get while I can. And when it's basketball time it's basketball time."

Gray said that the coaches at Cal were very happy to see that she had good grades, because the academic standards at Cal are higher than most other Division I schools.

"They were happy, because coming from Washington, an inner city school, they may have thought that I didn't have the grades," Gray said. "Like, I have the athletic ability but not the grades. But I proved them wrong and I had the grades."

Gray has not made up her mind on what she wants to do, but she has a couple options in mind. She is thinking about going to med school to become a veterinarian, or major in business administration.

Whatever career path she chooses, she is going to do it big time, and she will be an asset to our community.



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