A look inside the offseason work of Allisha Gray

Allisha Gray and her relationship with her trainer, John Hollmon

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Allisha Gray #15 of the Dallas Wings handles the ball against the Seattle Storm on September 9, 2020 at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida.

Dallas guard Allisha Gray didn’t waste much time getting back in the gym.

The Wings’ 2020 season had an unfortunate end, but Gray has been working with trainer John Hollmon after arguably her best season in the WNBA.

“I met John through my boyfriend Tim,” Gray told The Next. “He was working at a elementary school as part of his classes in grad school and that’s where he met John’s wife Brittany and she told Tim about John and how he train people and I was in San Marcos for the offseason with my boyfriend and I didn’t have a trainer so I was like, it wouldn’t hurt to give him a try. I did some workouts with him just to test the waters and see how he trained and I like the way he trained, so I stuck with him.”

Earlier in the season, Gray briefly touched on her offseason work with Hollmon and who he is after a conversation came up about her Instagram post with the player development specialist.

The work she put in with him over the offseason paid off from the get-go. She posted career-highs in points per game, rebounds per game and field goal percentage. She scored a career-high 26 points on Sept. 4 against the Minnesota Lynx.

She isn’t the talkative type of player and prefers to lead by example. She did that very thing in 2020 and led by example. When asked about what she’s working on this time around, she kept the answer short and sweet.

“I really don’t go into a plan focusing on one thing to get better at,” Gray said. “I focus on improving my game as a whole.”

Gray has been primarily a scorer throughout her career, but has the ability to expand her game. She is one of the best two-way players in Dallas and has the whole package, but hasn’t reached her full potential yet after just her fourth season.

“At the time when I was living in San Marcos I didn’t know anybody that trained in the area,” Gray said. “So when I met John and trained with him and to see the results from this past season, it just shows how good of a trainer John is and how he has helped developed my game.”

“I feel Allisha can be an All-Star,” Hollmon said to The Next on how good he believes Gray can be. “I think she is one now. As long as she continues to put in the work on and off the court, she will get there. Her numbers have improved every year and numbers don’t lie.”

He’s right, the numbers don’t lie, but they haven’t necessarily improved every year. Though her role dramatically changed from year to year beginning after year one when she won Rookie of the Year in 2017, to 2018 when the team added Liz Cambage, to 2019 when the team was rebuilding and her role was uncertain, to the present in 2020 when she is now one of the go-to scorers on the team. One thing that actually has improved with each year is her field goal percentage.

In 2020, Gray had the second-biggest positive margin of on/off court difference in offensive rating (16.6) behind only Arike Ogunbowale (16.8), but had a higher overall offensive rating than Ogunbowale with a 108.8 rating. Gray was the only player on the Wings with a positive net rating when she was on the court.

It’s not every day that in the middle of your career you’re able to find a new trainer who will fit your style and make you better along the way. Some just help players maintain and some never click, but Gray and Hollmon clicked from the beginning.

Chemistry and solid communication between the two has shown impressive early success. Hollmon and Gray have been in the gym again since last week and picked up right where they left off and putting in the work, as well as having fun competing against each other. He posted a video of some of their work last offseason just before they reunited.

“Allisha and I have a good friendship,” Hollmon said. “Every day we train it’s some sort of trash talking or small disagreement involved. Especially in the 1-on-1 games and she is good at rubbing it in. Allisha is the type that if she doesn’t like something, it shows in her face. She just can’t hide it. So I know when I need to change up drills to get her to do certain things like get lower or something. At the end of the day it’s all love and respect.”

It’s vital to have that understanding and being able to read one another and know when something isn’t working and changes need to be made. This trait just speaks to an already great relationship.

With the uncertainty of what will happen in regards to the 2021 season and whether or not players will be back in a bubble setting, it’s important to get the work in when you can. You don’t know what lies ahead and if the state of things will become better or worse before next season. Though one thing is certain: Gray will be ready and Hollmon will help get her there.