Khamil Pierre goes for a layup against Florida on Jan. 7, 2024. (Hustler Multimedia/Shammaa)
Khamil Pierre goes for a layup against Florida on Jan. 7, 2024. (Hustler Multimedia/Shammaa)
Sofia El-Shammaa

Falling into place: Khamil Pierre’s immediate impact on Vanderbilt Women’s Basketball

In just her fifth year of playing basketball, Khamil Pierre has made an instant impact on the nationally-ranked Vanderbilt Women’s Basketball team.

If you asked most Division I athletes their earliest memories of playing their sport, they might take you back to playing catch in the yard with a parent, joining a local youth league or picking up the sport in middle school. Very few athletes will tell you their earliest memories were from when they started in high school. Vanderbilt Women’s Basketball’s Khamil Pierre did just that, picking up basketball as a high school freshman; today, as a true college freshman, she is a role player on the 17-2 and No.24 nationally-ranked team. 

“Growing up, I didn’t play basketball,” Pierre told The Hustler. “I played competitive soccer my whole life. It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school that I decided to try out for the basketball team. In my junior year, I quit soccer to focus on basketball because I fell in love with the sport and the environment.”

Not only did Pierre fall in love with basketball, she excelled at it, collecting too many accolades to count during her four years at Perry High School in Queen Creek, Ariz. Among these were being named the Arizona State Gatorade Player of the Year in 2023, a McDonald’s All-American Nominee, and averaging 21.0 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.2 steals per game as a junior to lead PHS to its first Arizona 6A tournament championship game. 

“The first time I saw her step on the court, I was like, ‘yeah, she’s special,’ and I don’t think she quite even knew it herself,” Perry High School Women’s Basketball head coach Andrew Curtis said. “Some people are gifted, they can pick up an instrument and play it. Some people can put things together; that’s what [Khamil] is athletically. She’s coordinated and athletic, on the highest level.” 

In just one season of playing AAU Basketball, Pierre found herself with a four-star ranking among the class of 2023 recruits, and the college offers came rolling in. Out of the 30 offers she received, it was ultimately Vanderbilt and the community Shea Ralph has created within the program that she found a second home. Like any college athlete coming into a premier program, there have been learning curves, but Pierre has taken these in stride, finding the importance in the little details of her game. 

“The little details have been the biggest adjustment,” Pierre said. “I have always relied on my athleticism and being taller than other people, and I have had to really emphasize doing all the little things.” 

Still, Pierre has made an immediate impact, appearing in every game of the season thus far, averaging 13.8 minutes, 5.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and 0.7 assists — shooting 40% from the field. Her season-high points came on Jan. 18 against Auburn at Memorial Gymnasium, where she scored 17 points off the bench en route to recording her second straight double-double. Pierre has also collected two SEC Freshman of the Week awards. The first of such awards came on Jan. 2, and the second came just two weeks later on Jan. 16. 

“[Pierre] is going to be a huge piece for us this year, especially down the stretch. She’s supremely talented, supremely athletic,” Ralph said. “She has an array of different skills that lead to versatility…if we can layer her into our rotation consistently, then we become that much more lethal offensively and defensively.” 

Despite this success, Pierre admits there is much more she wants to accomplish this year and during her time at Vanderbilt.

“Since I am a freshman, [one goal] is to win [SEC] Freshman of the Year,” Pierre said. “However, as long as I keep putting in the work and keep my head down, everything will come into place.”

Perhaps, though, in the future, the thing people will remember most about Pierre and her time at Vanderbilt is the role model and person she is, much like she was at Perry High School. 

“Little girls would come to the game and want autographs, look up to her [Pierre] and take pictures. That [type of impact] is intangible,” Curtis said. “As much talent, skill  and potential [Pierre] has, she’s twice the person. She’s going to impact so many kids that come to the Vanderbilt games over the next four years. That’s what you want [in a player], [for them] to leave the game better than they found it, and she’s doing that tremendously.” 

Pierre and her teammate’s commitment to this Vanderbilt team and growing the game will continue to put the program’s name and players on a national stage.

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About the Contributors
Grace Hall
Grace Hall, Deputy Sports Editor
Grace Hall (‘26) is from Belfast, Maine, and is majoring in public policy studies in the College of Arts and Science. Grace is also the vice-president of the Vanderbilt Club Field Hockey Team. When not writing for The Hustler you can find her watching the Boston Red Sox or Celtics, reading or at a concert. You can reach her at [email protected].
Sofia El-Shammaa
Sofia El-Shammaa, Staff Writer and Photographer, Data and Graphics Staffer
Sofia El-Shammaa (‘27) is majoring in political science and communication studies in the College of Arts and Science. When they’re not writing or making graphics, you can find them with their cat, Mochi, watching bad movies or reading good books. You can reach them at [email protected].
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