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Cameron Smith

Senior hoops star picks Cal because of ... candy?

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Top prospects decide to go to different colleges for any variety of reasons. Sometimes a location near home can land a top blue-chip player. Sometimes a particular style of play makes the difference between two schools. In this case of Reshanda Gray, one of the nation's top girls basketball players, Cal earned her signature in no small part because of a very specific reason: Candy.

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Reshanda Gray is addicted to gushers. Not oil gushers. Not a marathon of emotional movies. Rather, the 6-foot-3 Gray -- who goes by the nickname "Too Tall" -- is addicted to the gelatinous candy filled with jelly, supermarket fare that comes in small packs. Somehow, Cal got that message ahead of time, and when Gray visited the Berkeley campus, the Golden Bears' staff made sure she was surrounded by Gushers everywhere she went.

"Everywhere I went, there were Gushers," Gray told Melissa Rohlin of the Los Angeles Times. "They filled every room up with Gushers."

Gray was clearly taken with the gesture, which helped separate Cal's commitment to the power forward from the gaggle of other school's aiming for her signature. The Washington Prep (Calif.) star grew up in a notoriously rough Los Angeles neighborhood, and it was an after-school coordinator who first drew her into basketball and out of a destructive path she said almost certainly would have led to a jail cell.

Instead she's headed to one of the nation's best universities, where she'll be able to eat as much of her favorite candy as she can hold, if early signs are any indication.

"I'm excited because that means I'm going to be semi-independent," Gray told the Times. "Let's just say I'm going to have a good time; I'm going to enjoy my college experience."

That indepedence was clearly another key factor in Gray's decision to spurn a scholarship offer from nearby USC to head to the northern side of the state, as she told the basketball blog Hoopism.

"I have lived in Los Angeles all my life, and it's time for a change," the senior told Hoopism. "I feel like if I had went to USC I wouldn't be as independent as I want to be, but if I go to Cal it will force me to be independent and also grow up more."

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