Gray gives Cal a big boost
The Cal Golden Bears are no strangers to highly regarded recruiting under Joanne Boyle. A season ago Cal signed the No. 12 class in the country and the year before inked the No. 4 class.
With the commitment of Reshanda Gray, the Bears of Berkeley again are in the conversation about the top classes in the nation.
Gray's impact on the court will be immediate, despite the need for her offensive game to continue to be refined in the halfcourt. If she were a defensive end prospect for Jeff Tedford and the Bears football program, a term that would be used to describe her would be high-motor. The tenacity for which she defends in the paint and cleans the glass is something coaches across the country covet. And the foul trouble that sometimes occurs because of it is simply worth the hassle and will work itself out with time and experience.
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. She still has plenty more to learn but her energy and athleticism will get her on the court early and often and she may surprise some with her ability to score.
The addition of Gray in Cal's recruiting class is significant because it now includes two players ranked in the top 22 of the class with No. 21 Erika Johnson, a wing prospect from Seattle, Wash., and Gray, from Los Angeles, is ranked No. 22 by ESPN HoopGurlz.
The class also has balance with Brittany Boyd, an explosive point guard from Cal's backyard. She is the No. 38 overall prospect in the class and, combined with Gray and Johnson, gives Cal depth at every position. All three players are versatile. At 6 feet 3, Gray's length and shot-blocking could allow her to slide over to the post position though we project her at forward. Johnson, at 6-1 has been a super-athletic forward in high school but, with emerging perimeter skills and expanding range, she projects as a player that will be able to contribute on the wing as well as slide over and play in the paint some if needed. Boyd, at 5-9 has the strength and athleticism to make things happen from either guard spot comfortably. Her explosiveness with the ball also allows her to slash and get open without the basketball, though her natural position is at the point.
Cal graduates just two players this season --- shooting guard Rachelle Federico and post Rama N'diaye. With no juniors on the roster this signing class will become part of a core group will be together with little change for two seasons. The Bears have sophomores DeNesha Stallworth, who made the Pac-10 All Freshman a season ago, and Talia Caldwell anchoring the post rotation. But with Brenna Heater giving up basketball in the middle of last season, Gray reestablishes the depth and talent that will be the strength of the program for years to come.
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Chris Hansen is the national director of prospects for ESPN HoopGurlz and covers girls' basketball and women's college basketball prospects nationally for ESPN.com. A graduate of the University of Washington with a communications degree, he has been involved in the women's basketball community since 1998 as a high school and club coach, trainer, evaluator and reporter. Hansen can be reached at email@example.com.
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