For Grambling’s Shakyla Hill, quadruple-doubles are great but she wants W’s
No one fills the stat sheet like she does, especially as she models her game after Russell Westbrook
Everything changed for Shakyla Hill after her first quadruple-double.
On Jan. 3, 2018, against Alabama State, the Grambling State floor general dominated with 15 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals, making her the fifth player in NCAA Division I history to accomplish the feat. It had been nearly 11 years since Lester Hudson of Tennessee-Martin recorded a quadruple-double, and that was against Central Baptist College of the NAIA.
More importantly, on a cooler tip, LeBron James not only shouted her out but also broke down her performance during a news conference. Chris Webber tried to get Hill named to the 2018 NBA All-Star Game. Plus, her social media following went through the roof. Hill is now a household name in the basketball community.
After last Saturday night, she stands alone.
Against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Hill recorded her second career quadruple-double with 21 points, 16 rebounds, 13 assists and 10 steals, giving Grambling a 77-57 victory. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Hill now has more quadruple-doubles in her career than all men’s Division I players combined.
For Hill, her inspiration to be so productive and a leader for her teammates comes from two of the biggest stat sheet superstars of all time.
“I feel like I model my game after LeBron James, but my game most closely resembles Russell Westbrook,” Hill told The Undefeated. “It is a relentless factor. I never want anyone to outwork me, and Russell is the same way. It’s a competitive spirit thing, and nobody on the court is going to do more than me, outwork me, get this rebound, whatever it takes.”
That competitive spirit is why the Westbrook comparison is fitting. Play her too close and she’s getting to the rim for a layup. Play off of her and she’s fine hitting the 3. Give her too much attention and she hits her teammates in stride for easy buckets. Oh, and don’t be too careless with the ball — she’s fourth nationally in steals (4.2 per game).
For Grambling State coach Freddie Murray, one moment in particular versus Prairie View exemplifies Hill’s ability to be the all-around star the team needs in the biggest moments.
“We were down one point with 13 seconds left. She got the ball from half court, drove to the rim for the layup to give us a one-point lead and fell down during the process,” said Murray. “They inbounded quickly. She sprinted the full length of the court, blocked the shot, grabbed the rebound and dribbled out the clock all within 13 seconds. If that doesn’t remind you of Westbrook, I don’t know what else could.”
Hill’s place among the top stars in college basketball isn’t by accident; in fact, she was born into it. With a mother who played in college and two brothers who played Division I, she’s upholding the family legacy. However, that legacy didn’t make for an easy beginning when she touched down at Grambling as a freshman.
“I can remember after my first week, I called my dad every day crying,” Hill said with a laugh. “I was begging to come home and considering transferring to other schools or not play basketball anymore. My first coach [Nadine Domond], compared to Coach Murray, have totally different coaching styles and personalities.”
Murray, with a chuckle, interjects: “It was all a part of the process.”
“Now looking back at it,” Hill said, “I appreciate it because it humbled me and broke me down and Coach Murray helped build me back up into the player I am now, and there were points where I didn’t want to do this anymore.”
Grambling’s opponents would appreciate it if she did this a bit less, as Hill currently leads the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) in scoring, assists, steals and minutes played. Moreover, she’s on pace to make an All-SWAC team for the fourth consecutive year. It’s the type of résumé Grambling State alum Willis Reed could appreciate, and for Hill it’s a legacy she’s trying to secure.
“I want to leave Grambling as one of the greatest basketball players to ever play on this court.”
Then, she stops me for a second.
“I don’t want to be known just as a great basketball player. I want to be recognized as a good teammate on the court and a good all-around person off the court too.”
Hill’s individual legacy at Grambling is probably secure, but with the Lady Tigers near the top of the SWAC standings and eyeing a trip back to the NCAA tournament, there’s one more achievement that Murray thinks would put things over the top.
“We believe we can be the first HBCU [historically black college or university] to win a game in the NCAA tournament,” said Murray. “Our goal from the jump was to come back after losing to Baylor in the tourney last season. She’s accomplished everything she can individually, and she will play at the professional level. Winning in the tournament would put things over the top.”
If the quadruple-double queen can help lead Grambling to a win in the NCAA tournament, she won’t have to worry about being one the all-time greats on campus. She’ll be one of the greats, period.