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Jordan Hill: It’s right time to move on, try next step

Citizen Staff Writer



For Arizona junior forward Jordan Hill, it is the right time to move on.

“You can’t get any better than what your projection is,” Hill said Thursday about his decision to leave early for the NBA draft after his junior year. It’s a good time to go on with the opportunity I have. I had fine years at Arizona. I love the fans and the coaches and the program.

“I want to try the next step.”

Hill, who has hired an agent, will move to Chicago on April 23 or 24 to begin working with Tim Grover, Michael Jordan’s former trainer.

The 6-foot-10 forward is projected to be a lottery pick, with NBAdraft.net predicting him to go as high as No. 2 to Washington. Hoopshype.com has him as No. 3, and going to the Clippers.

He said he knows he has to get better – including getting bigger and stronger to make it to the NBA, a lifelong dream for the 21-year-old.

He’s at 245 pounds and wants to get to 255. He’ll also need to work on his outside game, becoming more of a jump shooter.

“I’ll be working on that the whole summer,” he said, including ball-handling with Grover.

Earlier in the week, UA forward Chase Budinger declared early for the NBA. Hill said he doesn’t know whether UA guard Nic Wise will declare. Because Hill has hired an agent, he can’t return to UA. But Wise could come back if he doesn’t get an agent.

“(Wise) said he might test or he might not,” Hill said of Wise’s NBA decision.

Hill had a superb season, becoming the first UA player since Larry Demic in 1979 to average a double-double. He averaged 18.3 points and 11 rebounds a game for UA, which finished 21-14.

It was a meteoric rise for the junior from Atlanta via South Carolina. He went under the radar as a high school recruit until former UA coach Lute Olson saw him play in Houston.

Hill visited UA and later committed to the program.

“I never thought I’d be in this position,” he said. “I’m thankful for the opportunity. God is real. I just have to make the most of it.”

Hill said he’ll continue his classwork, working through the Internet to finish this semester. Most of his classes are online, he said.

“I made a promise to myself,” Hill said about getting his degree. “You’re not going to play basketball forever. When you hang up your shoes, you want to have that diploma.”

Hill knows making it in the NBA will require hard work, especially for someone who didn’t take up basketball until later in his teenage years.

“My upside is ridiculous,” he said. “I still have a lot more weapons to pull out in this game. Going to the next level, I will be with people who know how to bring that potential and that upside out of me.”

Hill said he admires Kevin Garnett (Celtics) and AmarĂ© Stoudemire (Suns), but he doesn’t want to model himself after any particular NBA player.

“I just want to go out there and play ball . . . and have kids say they ‘want to be like Jordan Hill.’ ”

Hill called his three seasons at UA a “fun roller coaster.” He had three different head coaches – Olson, Kevin O’Neill and Russ Pennell.

“I’ve grown up here,” he said. “I’m a bigger and better man.”

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