Iceland will be the next stop for former West Valley standout Ashley Gray following a sensational season in Germany.
Gray averaged 20.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game to lead TSV Towers Speyer-Schifferstadt in her second season of professional basketball after graduating from the University of Portland in 2018. When the German second team's coach departed, Gray and her agent found a new opportunity with Iceland's Njardvik.
"I hope (the competition is) better than Germany and it could be equivalent," Gray said. "I'm just hoping to have another killer season regardless."
The 6-foot-1 forward said improved post moves and a continued focus on rebounding helped her emerge as the team's go-to player after a teammate went down with injury early in the season. Gray also stepped up to the challenge of becoming a leader for a young team.
She's expecting a similar situation in Iceland, where she expects to be one of the oldest players on a team featuring several members of the Iceland National Team. Gray's eager to her third country in three years, since she played in Malta during the 2018-19 season.
COVID-19 restrictions forced Gray to try to stay in shape and work out on her own this summer. Fortunately, the virus appears to be mostly under control in Iceland, although Gray will need to test negative before and after a mandatory five-day quarantine once she arrives in the country.
"That has been a big challenge," Gray said. "I have a hoop in my backyard so I'm trying to get out there and use that as much as I can."
Although she doesn't know much about the small town on the coast about a 40-minute drive from Iceland's capital, Reykjavik, Gray's grown accustomed to adapting to new cultures. She initially planned to play only three seasons of professional basketball in Europe but said she might not be ready to give it up just yet.
Whenever it ends, Gray's confident her basketball career will provide valuable experience for whatever comes next. She majored in organizational communications at Portland and wants to go to either law school or business school to earn a graduate degree.
"I think it'll help me a lot just having that world experience," said Gray, the Yakima Valley's 2014 female athlete of the year. "Just being able to say I've lived all over in Europe and experiencing different cultures."