Aug. 3, 2011
With 15 weeks until the start of basketball season, AuburnTigers.com will follow the Auburn women's basketball team as it prepares to take the court.
By Morgan Powell, Auburn media relations
It was two years ago when, then sophomore Chantel Hilliard stood on the field at Jordan-Hard Stadium before the Auburn Family and received her championship ring. She was part of the women's basketball team who had captured its first Southeastern Conference regular-season title in 20 years.
"It was a great moment," said Hilliard. "We want another moment like that, and we are more determined to get back there now. Freshmen year was just awesome and we want to have that experience again."
Hilliard is one of three players that remain from the 2008-2009 championship team. At that time, Hilliard along with classmates Morgan Jennings and Parrisha Simmons were freshman and still learning what it took to play basketball at a college level. Now as seniors, Hilliard thinks they are poised and more determined than ever to lead the Tigers this season.
"I learned a lot from watching DeWanna Bonner and Trevesha Jackson," Hilliard said. "Watching them lead our team has helped me progress into a better leader and into who I am today. I'm trying to help the younger players to a championship."
Hilliard has made many strides since her freshman year. In her freshman year, Hilliard had the second-highest field goal percentage on the team, shooting .500 on 53-of-106 shooting. She finished the season averaging 4.0 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.
After a tough sophomore season, Hilliard rebounded as a junior, averaging 6.4 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. She also led the team in field goal percentage, scoring on 83 of 159 attempts for 52.2 percent.
Her hard work paid off as she emerged as a starter late in the season. She started 10 of Auburn's 32 games during the 2010-11 season, but nine of those starts came in the final 10 games. During that stretch, she notched career highs of 18 points and 11 rebounds against Mississippi State for her first career double-double.
As her senior season fast approaches, Hilliard hopes to use her accomplishments and what she has learned as an athlete to propel this Auburn team into through the season.
"I could be playing somewhere else, but I chose Auburn and I love it," said Hilliard, a native of Biloxi, Miss. "It is our time now and nobody can take it away from us unless we hand it to them. I know this year we are going to fight hard, and we are going to give it all we got."
No stranger to hard work, Hilliard will graduate a semester early, completing her degree in political science in December, 2011. She only hopes that the example that she and her teammates have set will continue on with the classes behind them.
"We can only hope that the young players can just keep the legacy going," said Hilliard. "We set the example, and now we just want the best for them. This year we are just going to keep on working hard in the weight room and working hard in the gym. We are setting the bas as soon as we get on the court."