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Hill will play vs. 7-foot-2 center, tallest opponent he’s ever faced

Citizen Staff Writer



MIAMI – Jordan Hill, meet 7-foot-2 Luke Nevill, the tallest player you have ever faced.

Good luck.

“He’s real, real long, way bigger than me,” said Arizona’s Hill, who is 6-10.

“It’s going to be a good challenge for me and it’s going to be a good challenge for him.”

UA and Utah meet at 4:10 p.m. Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Utah’s Nevill, the Mountain West Conference’s player of the year and the team’s top scorer (16.9 points per game), even went out to get a haircut for the event.

“It’s hotter here . . . humid, so it’s more streamlined,” Nevill joked of his new look.

Any advantage at this time of year is welcomed.

Nevill could use one but so could Hill, who has gone up against players of Nevill’s caliber (but not height) before.

Last season, it was Stanford’s

Lopez twins, Robin and Brook. This season, Hill went against Santa Clara’s 7-footer John Bryant, who had 20 points and 13 rebounds. But Hill had 20 points and nine rebounds in a 69-66 Arizona win.

Next up is Nevill, an Australian-born center who has turned himself into a bona fide player. He was named the MWC’s defensive player of the year, becoming the first player in conference history to win that award and the overall player of the year in the same season.

“He’s embraced it all year,” said Utah coach Jim Boylen referring to Nevill’s on-court challenges. “He’s been a marked man all year long with his talent and ability, and he’s handled it well. I expect him to lead us (Friday) on both ends.

“He can impact the game in a lot of different ways. And Hill is a terrific player, also a projected NBA player. But Luke . . . he can pass, rebound and score. He’s a rock defensively and he protects the rim.”

Boylen said he thinks Nevill is a lottery pick. He said so after a reporter asked about UA having two potential lottery picks (Chase Budinger and Hill).

In the latest NBAdraft.net mock board, Hill is projected to go as the fourth pick; Nevill is projected at No. 60.

Projections aside, Arizona knows what to expect.

“They go through him but he’s not their only option,” UA interim coach Russ Pennell said. “He’s very skilled and uses (both hands) very well.”

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