“I Want To Win” How Dawn Staley Got Bree Hall To South Carolina

WHN | Feb 10, 2024

By Brandolyn Hallams Bryan and LaShauna Hall appear on Google Meet. They greet me with a hello, and we dive…

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By Brandolyn Hallams

Bryan and LaShauna Hall appear on Google Meet. They greet me with a hello, and we dive right into the interview. As soon as I ask the first question LaShauna’s phone rings, it’s their daughter, Bree Hall. I’m not aware of why she was calling, but I do know that when Bree’s number was called to showcase her skills on the court for the Gamecocks, she answered!

“It was AAU freshmen year {high school}, Bree was playing with Zia Cooke and Rickea Jackson.” LaShauna runs through how at this particular game, Dawn Staley shows up to watch Cooke and Jackson play. She also mentions that she didn’t even know Staley was there, but Bree knew. “Dawn Staley was here. Do you think she saw me? I think she saw me!” 

LaShauna says in this particular game  Bree didn’t have many points, but apparently that didn’t matter to Coach Staley. Turns out she liked what she saw from Bree, whether she had 10 points or 2. Fast forward to her junior year in high school, and the Hall’s notice coach Jolette Law at one of Bree’s games. Coach Law walks up to them after the game and says; “You need to tell Bree she can’t be calling me during school hours, even if school’s not in.” LaShauna and Bryan had no idea she was communicating with the coaches. 

Once they realized she was serious about wanting to be a part of the Gamecocks program they took her for another visit. This was the 2020 game against UCONN. Fittingly enough, it was the first time that South Carolina had beaten the Huskies so the crowd was electric. Her parents say it was that game that helped Bree make her decision. 

Although Bree, and her father’s minds were made up about her telling South Carolina yes, they still had to convince her mom. Now, this had nothing to do with the Gamecocks program, but more to do with not wanting her first born to be too far away from home.  “I took her for a second trip back to Kentucky, back to Louisville. I was like you, sure?” 

It seems that Bree may not have been more sure about anything in her teenage life. The fandom and culture was one that can’t be denied. It was something Bree looked forward to. Not only that, she would reunite with her AAU teammate Zia Cooke. 

When Hall joined the Gamecocks in 2021, she wasn’t an immediate starter. In fact she didn’t start until this season. Although Bree was ranked no. 14 in the 2021 recruiting class, her parents say they weren’t expecting her to get in the starting lineup right away. 

She was added to a roster with the 2019 no.1 recruiting class, also known as “The Freshies,” and Coach Staley was always upfront and honest with them about how things could go for Breezy.  Mentioning that she liked her and thought her ceiling was high, and that she wants her on the team, but getting extended minutes may take some time.

“Full disclosure, if you guys are looking for freshmen of the year or something like that, this probably isn’t the place for you.” Words from Dawn Staley, that didn’t seem to matter to Hall. Her parents recall Hall telling them “I don’t want to be a Queen of losers, I want to win.” With that being said, accepted the offer and was off to Columbia, South Carolina.

Bree’s class was affectionately known as “The Birdies,” yet another no. 1 recruiting class for the Gamecocks, and though they were elite ballers, they all still had to wait their turn. Bree included. Her freshman year she only averaged 2.7 ppg, that rose to 5 ppg her sophomore year. This season, she’s up to 10 ppg and is arguably the most clutch player in the nation.  The Gamecocks traveled to Chapel Hill to face the Tar Heels back in November.

Bree Hall scored 15 points in the game, and displayed stellar defense.. She was a big part of helping the Gamecocks rally from 11 down to beat the Tar Heels in their own gym. This wouldn’t be the last time she was ready for the moment on the road. Hall would do it again against the reigning national champion LSU Tigers.

With only 1:14 remaining in the game, Bree Hall makes a 3 pointer to put the Gamecocks in front. Bree missed her first six shots, but drained the ones that mattered most in the final six minutes of the game.  That’s Bree’s character, she’s always ready for the moment and the calmness that the team needs.

Former teammates understand how important Bree is for the team too. WNBA rookie of the year and no.1 overall draft pick in the 2023 draft, Aliyah Boston was sitting just a few rows behind the bench at that LSU matchup. She noticed Breezy seemed a bit rattled, and she stepped over to share some words of comfort, and that seemed to do the trick.

“Bree’s always talking about how she wants her teammates to succeed.” Her parents say that she {Bree} talks about how important each person is to the team, but what she may not realize is they need her experience and leadership to keep them all grounded. She’s been a soft landing spot she stepped foot on campus at the University of South Carolina. 

She’s shielded her teammates from cameras, and also others. It’s more than just basketball with this young lady, it’s about energy, integrity and character.

Moral of the story, It ain’t easy being Breezy, but somebody’s gotta do it!

Brandolyn Hellams is a journalist and producer in Atlanta, who covers sports and entertainment.

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