Khadijah Sessions saw South Carolina women’s basketball swell from strong to dominant, and the fan following reflected the growth. She didn’t want to leave that despite graduating and about to start her professional career.
Inspiration was right down the street.
Long a fan of the S.C. ProAm, created by Carey Rich and Adam McDowell to showcase men’s college basketball stars, Sessions started a Women’s ProAm. It began Wednesday at Gray Collegiate Academy and will continue every Monday and Wednesday until Aug. 11– check Sessions’ Twitter feed for updated gyms.
“I always wondered why nobody took the time to do a Women’s ProAm, and I knew I couldn’t do it while I was in college,” Sessions said. “Since I always wanted my own business and have something of my own, why not start a Women’s ProAm here in South Carolina, where we have the biggest fan base in the country? Why not start it here?
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“Gamecock Nation goes crazy for our girls, and they don’t like to wait till November. So here it is in July.”
Eleven of USC’s 13 current players attended on Wednesday and eight played. The small gym was packed with parents (former NBA All-Star Antonio Davis, father of guard Kaela Davis, stood out) and fans as Sessions’ project had an impressive opening night.
She knows there will be struggles as it gets off the ground, but it’s already growing. She had enough players participate to form four teams and play two full games.Volunteers chipped in with music, PA and a grill for hot dogs –Sessions made the chili.
Rich has been a mentor and inspiration for Sessions, and her league will run a few weeks after Rich’s ends on Sunday. Like the men’s league, the women’s league is free and a chance to preview USC’s team, or catch up with former local stars.
Each player paid $50 to participate as Sessions seeks sponsorships, but she already has the full support of Dawn Staley and other nearby college coaches. Players from Francis Marion, College of Charleston, USC Upstate, Elon and Western Carolina attended, among others.
“In my meeting with coach Staley, she said, ‘What do you want to do? What do you want to have when you graduate?’” Sessions said. “I want to play overseas and run my own business. She thought it was beyond a great idea.”
Recently graduated Gamecocks Asia Dozier, Tina Roy and Sarah Imovbioh played, as well as Ashley Bruner, a forward who helped start the Gamecocks’ rise and is enjoying an MVP career overseas. Sessions hopes to start her overseas career soon but is enjoying more time in Columbia until she has to leave.
She plans to be back every summer.
“I told Carey Rich, ‘I’m going to be in competition with you,’ because we want this state to go big with ProAms,” Sessions said. “It’s a crazy atmosphere, and it’s big to do it here, where I played and performed.”
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