Big 12 Campus Correspondents
No doubt about it, Kansas women’s basketball player Danielle McCray has a passion for the game. The sophomore from Olathe, Kan., currently leads the Jayhawks in two categories, averaging 19.4 points per game and 8.3 rebounds per game, respectively.
Head coach Bonnie Henrickson also praises her work ethic and attitude.
"Danielle really put in a lot of work over the summer and it's paying off so far this season,” said Henrickson. “She has improved in every phase of her game. She is taking good shots and knocking them down. She has also been a strong player for us on both the defensive end and on the boards. Not only is she extremely talented, but she is a great team player."
Basketball is not McCray’s only passion, however. The other love of her life? ... Shoes, and lots of them.
“It all started back when I was living in Florida all through elementary and middle school,” said McCray, who was All-Big 12 honorable mention last season. “My mom always used to tell me I could have one pair of shoes for the whole school year. And that one pair was always black and white because those colors go with everything. So I used to get angry when I felt I needed shoes that would go with other things.”
McCray is used to going after what she wants and when she got old enough, she wanted more shoes. She and her best friend Keisha Walker, a guard for the Texas Tech Lady Raiders, would compete to see who could have the best and the most.
“My collection just started building up from there,” said McCray, who led Kansas in scoring (14.9), rebounding (7.1) and steals (1.9) as a sophomore. “Every scholarship check I get I probably buy at least two new pairs of shoes. Now I have something to go with every outfit and every color. Some of them I don’t even wear much or at all. And there are times when I just go back to the black and white shoes.”
Currently, McCray estimates that she has over 100 pairs of shoes. While she does own several pairs of high heels for “dressier” occasions, tennis shoes make up the bulk of her collection.
“Mostly I have Nike Air Force Ones or Air Jordans,” said McCray, who can't name a favorite pair. “There are all kinds of colors in those. I also love Pumas. And those are all in addition to the Adidas shoes I am issued from Kansas. I used to have enough room where they could all fit in my closet, but now they’ve spread out onto my floor.”
Actually, McCray’s shoes used to have their own room. Prior to the arrival of freshman Angel Goodrich this season, McCray did not have a roommate. “Before she came I kept some of my shoes in the spare closet,” said McCray. “Then she moved in and I was like, ‘Uh oh, where am I going to put them?’”
McCray’s hobby is common knowledge on the team and earns her some teasing at times.
"They’ll just ask me, ‘Wow, Danielle, how many shoes do you have?!’” said McCray. “Sometimes if I don’t wear shoes that match my color exactly the coaches or my teammates will ask me what’s wrong.”
Teammate Nicollette Smith probably appreciates McCray’s collection more than anyone.
"Danielle and I are both really into collecting shoes,” Smith said. “We do a lot of shoe shopping together. It works out really well because we wear the same size and can share shoes. I know I can always go to her closet and find just the right shoe I need to finish my outfit."
McCray says that much like her passion for the game of basketball, she doesn’t see an end to her shoe collecting hobby.
“I don’t think it’s ever going to stop,” said McCray. “That’s just how much I love wearing tennis shoes and love the new styles that come out. As long as the new Jordans and other new styles keep coming out, I’m going to keep buying them.”