His consistency, grit earn him honor
Arizona junior basketball center Jordan Hill is a get-it-done, no-frills player.
His statistics back it up.
He is averaging 18.5 points and 11.0 rebounds a game, the first UA player since Larry Demic (19.3, 10.3) in 1979 to average a double-double for the season.
Hill’s rebound average ranks tied for sixth all-time for a UA season. The points and rebounds were second in each category in the Pac-10.
Yet, when he spoke about being named to the all-conference first team Monday, he was ho-hum about it.
“I guess it’s a good thing,” said Hill, whose team plays Arizona State on Thursday in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament.
“I just went out there to play basketball and have fun. I heard that I was (on the team). It doesn’t matter to me. I just keep playing.”
Teammate Chase Budinger, who was unavailable to the media, was also a first-team selection, while Nic Wise made the second team. Kyle Fogg made the freshmen honorable mention list.
“I’m proud of these guys,” interim coach Russ Pennell said. “I think they’ve embraced what we’ve tried to get across to them.”
Hill suffered a severe sprain of his left ankle against Washington 10 days ago.
He said he was under the impression it would take three weeks to get ready to play again, but UA’s training staff did such a thorough and complete job of getting him ready that he was able to go just five days later.
“He’s a pretty quick healer and a tough kid,” Pennell said.
Hill said waiting three weeks was not an option.
“I’d rather go through pain (through rehab) so I can come back early,” he said.
He said he’s feeling fine and has no major pain, adding there’s “nothing broken, so I feel pretty good. So I keep playing.”
He said he’s been playing on adrenaline and with a tough-minded outlook.. Hill said he went in with the attitude that “if it ain’t broke, I don’t think I should be sitting out. There’s a difference between injuries and hurt. I was just hurt in that game (UW). I had to keep fighting.”
His teammates expected the same. That’s the player they’ve known for a long time.
Wise said Hill “uplifts us.”
“We know he wants to help us in any way – even when he’s hurting that bad,” he said. “It shows how bad he wants it and makes us want it even more.”
Pennell said Hill won his teammates over against Washington when he came back from the injury.
“They knew he didn’t do that for himself,” Pennell said. “The selfish thing would (be) to think you didn’t want to go in and hurt yourself worse. (But) he did work his tail off to get on the floor. That’s what we expect from each other.”
Arizona (19-12, 9-9) vs. No. 23 ASU (22-8, 11-7), noon Thursday; first round of Pac-10 Tournament. TV: FSNA. Radio: 1290 AM, 107.5 FM