January 16, 2024 

Grambling State quadruple-double queen Shakyla Hill reflects on her magical moment

Hill: 'The HBCU world rallied around me'

Shakyla Hill still has her sights on playing in the Athletes Unlimited league next month.

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Even if it doesn’t happen, Hill is at peace and focused on preparing to take the LSAT to make her dream of becoming a criminal defense attorney a reality. Currently, Hill works for NUFG — a Japan-based bank.

There’s no question that Hill has the skills, game, and desire to be an asset in the Athletes Unlimited league if given the opportunity. Of course, Hill gained fame during her final two seasons at Grambling State University as The Next catches up with her to reflect on the moment that introduced Hill to the world.

The rhythmic melodies of pings didn’t disturb Hill.

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She went to sleep after her epic performance with 8,000 Instagram followers and woke up the next day as an instant celebrity with 20,000 new followers between Instagram and X, formerly known as Twitter. The sheer volume of 30,000 notifications stunned her.

Hill didn’t understand the significance of her life-changing moment at first, until she had NBA All-Stars tweeting about her accomplishment.

“There were so many tweets,” an astonished Hill reflected to The Next during a phone interview last week. “When Chris Paul and James Harden tweeted that night and said, ‘It’s not every day you see a quadruple-double.’ It was different. Then I realized I had made SportsCenter, and people began sending me video clips to my phone, to the point where I turned it off. When Chris Paul tweeted, I was like, ‘This is about to change my life.’”

A pleasant package of electricity, elusiveness, and elegance, Hill, competing for Grambling State in Louisiana, enjoyed a night to cherish when she authored a majestic quadruple-double of 15 points, 10 rebounds, 10 steals and 10 assists in a 93-71 win over Alabama State on Jan. 3, 2018. She was the fourth player in Division I women’s basketball history and the first since 1994 to record a quadruple-double.

In a digital age, Hill went viral as she woke up the next morning with 12,000 new Instagram followers. It’s hard to believe it’s been six years since Hill’s historic night.

Shakyla Hill is the only women’s college basketball player to have registered two quadruple-doubles in a career. She has two of the five all-time Division I women’s basketball quadruple-doubles. (Photo courtesy of Shakyla Hill)

Hill’s feat placed her squarely in the national spotlight. She did many interviews, appeared on SportsCenter with Jemele Hill, signed photos for fans and received a shout-out from LeBron James.

“That was my goal and the best moment,” Hill said of James’ message. “He acknowledged my accomplishment and knew who I was. I didn’t know about it initially because I had no phone. I was at breakfast, and my teammates came up to me and handed me a phone to watch. I didn’t know what I was looking at in the beginning. Then, when I realized it was LeBron shouting me out, I busted out crying because I couldn’t believe it. Everybody was watching me. It was something I’ll never forget.”

A 2019 Grambling State graduate with a criminal justice degree, Hill made sure she would be remembered forever, as she did it again on Feb. 2, 2019, becoming the only women’s basketball player in Division I history to record two quadruple-doubles. In a 77-57 win over Arkansas Pine Bluff, Hill collected 21 points, 16 rebounds, 13 assists and 10 steals.

Playing professionally for Serbian club ZKK Kraljevo of the First Women’s Basketball League of Serbia, Hill made history by finishing with the first quadruple-double in ZLS history on Jan. 26, 2020. She had 15 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals.

Hill became aware of Holy Family graduate student Carly Bolivar’s quadruple-double on, coincidentally, Jan. 3, 2024, against Wilmington. She finished with 11 points and career bests of 14 rebounds, 12 assists and 10 steals. Bolivar was the second Division II women’s basketball player in history to accomplish a quadruple-double, joining Fort Valley State’s Tereska Watkins, who did so in 1997.

Another way to look at it is there’s been two women’s basketball quadruple-doubles in this century: Hill and Bolivar.

“That’s crazy for her to do that on the same day as I had my first quadruple-double,” Hill said. “People sent me posts from social media about Carly’s accomplishment. Finishing with a quadruple-double is hard because you have to run around the court and be active on both ends of the floor. God placed his hand on my life to get two quadruple-doubles while playing at an HBCU. He blessed me, and I am so thankful for all my experiences because so many doors opened for me.”

The 27-year-old quadruple-double queen commemorates the moment on her social media accounts with a simple message: “Today is the day my life changed.” She also shares the video of James recognizing her accomplishment.

Shakyla Hill finished her career with 2,073 points and graduated from Grambling State as the all-time program leader in assists and steals. (Photo courtesy of Shakyla Hill)

What touched Hill the most after her first quadruple-double was the added notoriety it earned Grambling State and HBCUs, specifically beyond football and men’s basketball. People were talking about women’s basketball. Opposing players wanted their picture with Hill, who gained a new community of supporters and fans.

“It was a feeling like something I never felt before,” Hill said. “There was a feeling of pride for so many people everywhere as the HBCU world rallied around me. I gained a new family, and that was special. People were like, ‘She did that for us.’ Even when people made rude comments, people I didn’t know came to my defense, which meant so much.”

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Hill dazzled at Grambling.

The Little Rock, Ark., native’s career accolades include 12 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Player of the Week awards, SWAC Player of the Year (2019), SWAC Defensive Player of the Year (2019), SWAC Tournament MVP (2018), United States Sports Academy Player of the Month and ESPN The Undefeated’s HBCU Player of the Year.

Additionally, Hill finished her career as the third all-time in scoring at Grambling State with 2,073 points. Her 934 rebounds were second all-time at GSU. Hill left Grambling as the program’s all-time leader in assists (623) and steals (493). The steals were a SWAC record. Aside from the two quadruple-doubles, Hill collected 32 double-doubles and four triple-doubles.

Hill was disappointed not to be selected in the 2019 WNBA Draft despite some strong performances during pre-draft camps. She signed with ZKK Kraljevo in Serbia, where she helped them win the Milan Ciga Vasojevic Cup after averaging 13.3 points. COVID-19 forced Hill to return to the United States. She returned overseas to play for Bashkimi Prizren in 2022.

“I learned that no matter where I was in the world, I would always have my family and friends,” Hill said. “I mean, I always knew that, but it’s different on the other side of the world.”

Hill’s family, which includes her parents, Latonya Cole and Wesley Hill and brother, Tyree Appleby, who played at Florida after transferring from Cleveland State, has always been full of loyal supporters. While at Grambling State, Hill developed into a force thanks to the tough-love coaching of Nadine Domond, who left after Hill’s freshman year and is currently the head coach at Virginia State.

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The Grambling State coaching staff in her last three years, Freddie Murray, David Pierre and Isayra Diaz, significantly impacted Hill’s life on and off the court. Following her quadruple-double, Hill and former Grambling State sports information director Brian Howard, whom she thanked for preparing her for the numerous media interviews, promoting her accomplishment and sharing plenty of graphics, were inseparable in the days immediately after that amazing moment.

No matter what happens, Hill will forever have Jan. 3, 2018.

“The advice I would give is go to an HBCU and live your best life at that Black school,” Hill said. “You can achieve every dream you have at an HBCU, just like you would at a predominately white institution. Don’t let anyone undermine that. Life goes how it’s supposed to, and I am blessed for everything that I’ve been able to experience.”

Written by Rob Knox

Rob Knox is an award-winning professional and a member of the Lincoln (Pa.) Athletics Hall of Fame. In addition to having work published in SLAM magazine, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington Post, and Diverse Issues In Higher Education, Knox enjoyed a distinguished career as an athletics communicator for Lincoln, Kutztown, Coppin State, Towson, and UNC Greensboro. He also worked at ESPN and for the Delaware County Daily Times. Recently, Knox was honored by CSC with the Mary Jo Haverbeck Trailblazer Award and the NCAA with its Champion of Diversity award. Named a HBCU Legend by SI.com, Knox is a graduate of Lincoln University and a past president of the College Sports Communicators, formerly CoSIDA.

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