The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Advertisement
Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
A&M System’s Title IX director suspended after supporting Biden's Title IX changes
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • May 23, 2024
Advertisement
Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
Saves and a robbery
Ian Curtis, Sports Reporter • June 16, 2024

Texas A&M baseball sophomore RF Jace LaViolette is known for his bat — and for good reason. LaViolette ranks sixth in the country in home...

Advertisement
The Fighting Texas Aggie Band performs at halftime during Texas A&Ms football game against ULM at Kyle Field on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023.
Gridiron glory to multi-event marvel
Shalina Sabih, Sports Writer • June 7, 2024

Special teams: Special events  “My favorite thing about an event is seeing the people come into the stadium and seeing their excitement...

Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
'I was terrified'
April 25, 2024
Advertisement
Chris Hemsworth as Dementus in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.
Review: ‘Furiosa’ is a must-see
Justin ChenJune 4, 2024

My jaw dropped open in 2016. Rarely in life does that happen, but the viewing experience of “Mad Max: Fury Road" was something to behold....

Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
Saves and a robbery
June 16, 2024

Hillsman’s Last Hurrah

Senior+Khaalia+Hillsman%26%23160%3Bembraces+head+coach+Gary+Blair+after+the+last+game+of+her+four+year+career+for+Texas+A%26amp%3BM+University.
Photo by Photo by Jesse Everett

Senior Khaalia Hillsman embraces head coach Gary Blair after the last game of her four year career for Texas A&M University.

SPOKANE, Wash. — As she’s done hundreds of times in her career, Texas A&M senior center Khaalia Hillsman trotted off the court with the game already decided. This time it was against Notre Dame in the Sweet 16 with just 14 ticks of the clock remaining.
Only this time, it was different. This was the final time Hillsman would leave a collegiate basketball game.
As she stepped off the court, she was overcome with emotion and embraced her head coach Gary Blair one final time.
“It’s just been incredible,” Hillsman said. “I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’m getting a first-class education. I formed relationships I’m going to have for the rest of my life. It’s just been really special. I’m just really glad I had this opportunity.”
The opportunity was given to Hillsman after an illustrious high school career at Whitney Young High School, located just outside of Chicago. The high school is known for graduating several celebrities including Michelle Obama, Michael Jordan and Jahlil Okafor.
Hillsman led Whitney Young to Illinois State Championship wins as a sophomore in 2011-12 and as a senior in 2013-14. Hillsman capped her tenure at Young with a monstrous senior season in which she averaged 13.2 points and 14.2 rebounds per game. When the season was over, Hillsman was a five-star recruit and was ranked the third-best post player in the nation by All-Star Girls Report.
However, what attracted Blair was not just what Hillsman could do on the basketball court, but what she could do in the classroom as well.
“She had the balance [of school and sports] coming in,” Blair said. “She was our most gifted ACT score, [and is graduating from the] business school. That’s a lot better than you and I when we graduated.”
Hillsman made an impact on the basketball team from the get-go, seeing action in 31 games her freshman year. She elevated her game in her sophomore season, averaging 7.3 points and 5.3 rebounds and starting every game. Hillsman had a breakout season her junior year, averaging 16.4 points and 8.2 rebounds.
Senior forward Jasmine Lumpkin played club basketball in high school with Hillsman and said her strong senior season was due to an increased focus.
“’I’ve just seen her growth and how much better she’s gotten offensively and how mentally locked in she’s been,” Lumpkin said. “It’s been great playing with her and I know she’s going to do great things.”
Although Hillsman ranks ninth in most points scored for A&M, fifth in career rebounds, third in career blocks and second in career double-doubles, Blair said the biggest asset she will bring to a professional team is her heart for others.
“She’s going to be a pro because she’s got a heart,” Blair said. “She cares about her teammates so much. I think that’s what separates her out. She doesn’t have that ‘I’ on her forehead. She cares about those teammates.”
Hillsman demonstrated her care in her postgame press conference, as she didn’t mention a single one of her accomplishments but rather everyone she’s going to miss when she graduates — from her friend of 12 years, Jasmine Lumpkin, to every assistant coach.
“I’m going to cry now. It’s been special, you know,” Hillsmand said. “I’ve been so blessed to be able to play and meet and form so many relationships with these people.”
Hillsman will now begin preparation for the WNBA Draft, which will take place on April 12. The 6-foot-5 center is projected to go undrafted according to Draftsite.com’s latest Mock Draft, but freshman point guard Chennedy Carter has no doubts she will be playing basketball for years to come.
“I’m sad to see her go, but I know that she has a lot of basketball left to be played,” Carter said. “In my opinion, she’s one of the best post players I’ve ever played with.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Battalion

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas A&M University - College Station. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Battalion

Comments (0)

All The Battalion Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *