McCray Returns to Allen Fieldhouse to Spread Holiday Cheer

Dec. 22, 2011

Fresh off her WNBA rookie campaign, the former KU standout and Olathe, Kan., native returned to the Fieldhouse for the Kansas women’s game Wednesday night. In two weeks, she will head back to Slovakia, where she is currently playing professionally during the WNBA off-season.

It has been almost two years since Danielle McCray last starred on the Allen Fieldhouse floor, but she still remains a crowd favorite as she was swarmed with autograph and interview requests upon her return to her former home Wednesday night.

“I enjoy it because not everyone gets this opportunity,” McCray said during one of her many interviews at the Kansas versus Oral Roberts game. “It’s fun for me to talk to people and to let them know how I am doing.”

McCray has become quite the world traveler as of late, spending time in three different countries during the past calendar year. The fourth all-time KU scorer started her professional career in Israel last winter and then continued it in the WNBA this past summer. Her latest stop is the nation of Slovakia, where she is playing for the ‘Good Angels’ of the Euro League.

“Both places are different,” she said. “Israel is more Americanized and I really did not feel like I was in a different country while I was there. In Slovakia it is very different, but I like it because it is a different league and is a step above the league I was in last year in Israel.”

McCray played for Rishon Lezion of the Israeli Women’s League during the winter of 2010-11, but sees her Slovakian experience as a chance to see more time on the hardwood.

“We play twice a week, but in Israel it was only once a week,” the Olathe, Kan., native explained. “So far we are third in our conference and we have been traveling everywhere, so I can’t really complain.”

McCray has gone from playing in the 2010-11 Israeli season to the 2011 WNBA regular season and now 2011 Euro League games with little rest. The lack of off-season does not bother the 24-year-old as she would rather gain experience out on the court.

“Because I am so young and it is my first year of going from the WNBA to overseas, it is not really tiring yet,” she said. “I am just enjoying it right now.”

McCray said that a majority of WNBA players who can find work overseas during the off-season will play rather than take it easy in the off-season.

As for her former teammates in the Crimson and Blue, whom she saw defeat Oral Roberts 85-68 Wednesday night, McCray would like to be playing with or against them on a professional court sometime soon.

“I talk to Carolyn (Davis) and Aishah (Sutherland) through twitter and facebook,” the 5-11 professional said. “I just try to keep pushing them and keep them motivated because I want to see them go far, they just have to stick with it.”

“Just to know that she (Danielle) came from this program and is doing so well overseas and in the WNBA is encouraging,” Davis said after the game. “It is exciting to see her back inside of Allen (Fieldhouse) again and hear encouraging words from her because she is a great supporter of us still.”

The former Jayhawk standout is also encouraged to see an international presence of some of her old counterparts on the men’s team.

“Sherron Collins is in Turkey playing and Russell Robinson is over there, too, so we chat a lot,” McCray said. “Of course you have the other (KU) guys in the league (NBA), but for the women it is great to get the KU name out there and have a successful WNBA player coming out of Kansas.”

Even though McCray was back to support her old squad, she is eager to receive some support from her family while she is home for the holidays.

“It is amazing to be back,” she thought. “Just to be around your family and friends and to see old faces is great. I am also enjoying the food because it is kind of hard to find food over there that I like.”

McCray will have time to catch up on those old faces and their home cooking until the first few days of the New Year, then it’s time to head back to Slovakia where she will play for the ‘Good Angels’ until April. The WNBA regular season begins for McCray and her Connecticut Sun in late May.

McCray’s 2011 WNBA Stats: