Texas A&M women’s basketball announced the signing of Khaalia (Kai-la) Hillsman to a National Letter of Intent on Thursday. Hillsman, a 6-5 post player from Chicago, Ill., is ranked as one of the top recruits in the country.
“I think she is in a long line of great ‘five’ players to have played at Texas A&M in LaToya Micheaux, Danielle Adams, Kelsey Bone, Karla Gilbert and now Khaalia Hillsman,” said head coach Gary Blair. “She has been extremely well-coached and has played at the highest level for a player her age. We expect her to come in and be an impact player.”
“Her ball skills really impress me, she has good hands and has the size we need to compete against the best in the SEC,” added Blair.
“I chose Texas A&M because I love the atmosphere, the team, the coaches, and the campus,” said Hillsman. “I really like the feel of the program and the coaches, who know what they are doing because they won the national championship. I also thought it would be a good fit with all the success assistant coach Bob Starkey has had with his post players.”
“I’m super-excited right now, and when I was done signing, I couldn’t get the grin off my face,” added Hillsman. “I’m really happy that I am an officially an Aggie.”
According to All-Star Girls Report analyst Brett McCormick, Hillsman is the third-ranked post prospect and the 20th-best player overall in the nation, and rates the Aggies one-player class as the 22nd-best recruiting class in the nation.
“Khaalia is the third-ranked post player nationally in the class,” wrote McCormick. “She is a good athlete with great size, and she has a great drop step and other moves around the basket. She has really taken her game to another level over the past year.”
Hillsman is rated by ESPNU HoopGurlz as a five-star recruit, and is a member of the ESPN HoopGurlz 100. She is rated by ESPNU as the 46th-best recruit in the nation and the sixth-best post player.
Hillsman, attends Whitney Young High School in Chicago, the alma mater of First Lady Michelle Obama, WNBA veteran Dominique Canty, New York Knicks swingman Quentin Richardson, and Texas A&M associate head coach Kelly Bond-White.
“Our whole staff did a very good job on recruiting Khaalia, but Coach Bond-White, being from Whitney Young and Chicago, and having recruited some top five players in her time to come here really helped,” said Blair. “The development Coach Starkey has done while he has been here with Kelsey Bone, Karla Gilbert, and Rachel Mitchell was very enticing to Khaalia, along with his development of Sylvia Fowles and Seimone Augutus at LSU.”
She scored 24 points and had 11 rebounds in the Chicago Public School finals in 2013, giving Whitney Young High School its fifth straight City Championship. She averaged 9.8 rebounds and 8.6 points per game during her junior year on a loaded perennial powerhouse Whitney Young team that advanced to the State Semifinals.
As a sophomore in 2011-12, she averaged 5.8 points per game to help Whitney Young go 34-0 and win the Illinois State Championship.
“She’s going to be a great post player for Coach Blair in his system,” said Whitney Young Head Coach Corry Irvin. “She is going to continue to develop and I think they’ll be able to help her get to the next level and I think it’ll be a good fit.”
Hillsman is an outstanding student and plans to enter the Mays Business School, one of the reasons she chose Texas A&M, upon matriculation.
She played club basketball for Mac Irvin Lady Fire, and is the daughter of Bianca Hillsman.
“I’m very happy for Khaalia and her mom, but also for my coaching staff and my players, because Texas A&M put their best foot forward,” said Blair. “She wants to be the very best and has high aspirations like our players.”