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Women's Basketball  . 

Khadijah Sessions Brings Unique Perspective to Gamecock Staff

by Brad Muller

As a former point guard, Khadijah Sessions knows all about being in the right spot. The former South Carolina point guard (2013-2016), who helped the Gamecocks to the program’s first NCAA Final Four in 2015, is now an assistant coach with the program. Although she has experienced coaching at different levels, there was only one reason she considered getting into college coaching.

“I wasn’t really looking into women’s college basketball if it wasn’t South Carolina,” said Sessions, who led the Gamecocks to three SEC regular season championships and a pair of league tournament titles. “There are couple of other places I could have gone in previous years, but if it wasn’t with Coach Staley, I wouldn’t do it at all.

“It meant everything to me. Just being able to play for Coach Staley, and now being on the other side of it as coach. I’ve been studying her for years when it came to coaching, and now I’m beside her. I’m inside the meetings and picking her brain every day.”

The opportunity arose thanks to new NCAA legislation that allowed for the increase in the staff. Sessions is not a stranger to the coaching profession, however. She privately trained young basketball players in the Columbia area and led a youth AAU team. In August 2020, she went to Ridge View High School as its junior varsity head coach and an assistant coach for its varsity squad and has coached boys and girls during her career.

“I started doing camps and clinics and tournaments, and after that I started my own organization,” Sessions said. “High school coaching came about because they saw how many kids I trained and how many lives I was changing. They had an opening at Ridge View, and who wouldn’t want to coach (former Gamecock men’s basketball student-athlete) G.G. Jackson? That was huge! I learned so much in those two years.

“I’m a little bit more aggressive when it comes to coaching boys. With girls, you have to tone it down a little bit, but they’re more fundamental than boys. Boys trust their athleticism and their speed.”

“Coach Staley makes sure that we’re a family, and that’s why we come back.”
Khadijah Sessions  . 

Having been in the shoes of the student-athletes and playing for Coach Staley, Sessions has a good perspective she can bring to the table.

“Just knowing it’s a process you have to trust, and you have to tell that to the ones who are here now,” Sessions said. “It’s a process. It’s a process that’s easy to trust when you have the G.O.A.T. behind you. What Coach Staley brings to you is that she’s always going to make sure you’re good off the court.

“Everybody was a five star in high school. You have to be able to come in and sacrifice your role. If you want to be a successful team, it’s all about knowing your role and exceeding at that.”

Sessions certainly learned from one of the best.

“I’m kind of a firecracker,” Sessions said. “I beat on defensive principles. I took a lot from (Staley) when it comes to that, but I also took on a lot of things my own way. She respected my decision-making as a point guard under her, and now as a coach, we have a lot of respect for each other.”

Intercollegiate athletics has changed since she played for the garnet and black, and she admits she is a little envious of what student-athletes have now with Name, Image, and Likeness.

“Do you know the NIL deals we could have had during our first Final Four with the rap thing and (former teammate) Tina Roy hair?” Sessions said with a laugh. “I would have headband deals! I think it’s a great thing.”

Sessions was a big part of Staley’s success in turning the program into a national contender every year, and she takes pride in achieving a lot of those firsts.

“I still talk about it to this day,” Sessions said. “My freshman year, we had about three thousand people come to our first game. Then you come into my year and there are 18,000 in there and selling it out.

“That love you were feeling from everyone was amazing. That year we went to the Final Four was one of the top three moments of my life.”

Sessions has enjoyed watching the continued success of the program, and now she’s thrilled to be back in it, even if she was never really too far away from it.

“The people that played here and were successful here, we don’t miss a game!” Sessions said. “We have our own group chat. You’re going to see us show up. Coach Staley makes sure that we’re a family, and that’s why we come back. We watch everything. We’re still close knit. That’s how you can tell Coach Staley is doing the right thing.”

Now that she’s back, Sessions is settling in to discovering her new role for the program, which isn’t too far removed from her point guard role in trying to make everyone better.

“It’s making sure the girls are focused, getting to class on time, getting to workouts on time, making sure they’re talking in practice and that the point guards know what to do,” Sessions said. “I’ve been working with the point guards a lot.

“I just want to see us succeed with a young group and see what we can do as staff. This is a clean slate with a new team. I’m excited to see what we can do with this team.”

Check out more with Coach Sessions in an upcoming “GAMECOCK TALK” podcast and on Gamecocks+. Find it wherever you get your podcasts!