Potential UA recruit Hill wants to set record straightby Javier Morales on Nov. 24, 2009, under Sports
RELATED LINK: NCAA finds Laurinburg Institute unfit as an academic establishment. This is a significant reason why Chris Hill was not cleared to play this year for a Division I institution and was forced to complete required courses at Stevens Prep Academy.
If potential Arizona recruit Chris Hill of Stevens Prep Academy in Raleigh, N.C., plays with as much determination as how he speaks, the Wildcats will be … well, allow me to let Hill finish the sentence:
“That program will be back on top,” Hill said. “I don’t want to only go there. I want to go to Arizona and work hard to become a big part of their program. I want to help those guys get that program back to where it should be.”
When talking to Hill, I got the sense that his mind is made up on Arizona. The obstacle is academics, but that hurdle is not insurmountable, according to Hill. It’s true that Arizona has yet to offer a scholarship because of questions concerning Hill’s completion of qualifying core classes while he attended Laurinburg (N.C.) Prep before transferring to Stevens Prep.
Before you start thinking that Hill is all about basketball and not about the books, you might want to reserve your judgment. People can easily jump to their own conclusions that a player with academic concerns is not intelligent or mature enough to handle responsibility. Again, allow me to let Hill answer that perception:
“I’d like to squash the rumors that are flying around out there on the message boards,” Hill said. “I’m not old. I’m only 19. I never played in junior college. As it is right now, I have three years (of college) eligibility remaining (because of his age). I might have four after everything is researched.
“The NCAA is checking into whether I have all my (academic) qualifiers from Laurinburg. I think they will find out that I do. Right now, I’m taking college prep courses at Stevens Prep. I could complete all my schoolwork by December. The way I look at it is I’m doing everything I can to make myself better. Once people see me at Arizona, then what are they gonna have to say?”
Hill added that he communicates often with the UA coaching staff — the most recent discussion was Sunday — and that he expects assistant coach Book Richardson to pay him a visit by Dec. 4. He has not committed to Arizona, but the visit by Richardson will help him get closer to sealing the deal with Sean Miller. Kentucky and UConn have also been reported as possible suitors. One Web site recently reported that Hill might test the NBA if he does not get a scholarship offer.
“I have not committed (to Arizona) yet because Coach Miller and Book have to make sure everything checks out fine with me (academically) first,” Hill said. “When Book comes out here, we’ll talk about that and we’ll talk about how I can contribute on offense and defense for them. I know defensively I can come in and help right away with my blocked shots (presently averaging four a game).
“I want to take a visit to Arizona soon, probably in the next couple of weeks, and finish things off. Kentucky’s coaches still call me, but they have a background with me when they were at Memphis. Right now, I’d say I’m most comfortable with Arizona and what they have to offer.”
I asked Hill where that comfortable feeling comes from.
“I know some of the players, like Kevin (Parrom) and I’ve played against Solomon Hill before (in AAU tournaments),” he said. “But the biggest thing is I’ve known Book for the last three years, when he was at Xavier. I get a long with him really well. Coach Miller is also a coach I would like to play for.”
Hill, who averages 27 points and 13 rebounds at Stevens Prep, comes from a solid pedigree. His Godfather is Jerry Stackhouse and his cousin and mentor is Suns forward Amare Stoudemire. Hill said the fact that Stoudemire plays up the Interstate does not factor into his desire to play at Arizona.
“If he has to play somewhere else after I go out there, it would not matter,” he said. “I want to play at Arizona because of that program and the coaches there more than anything.”
How would he fit in at Arizona?
“Coach Miller and those guys like versatile players, and I have that versatility,” he said. “I’m about 6-8 without my shoes on and 6-9 with them. I weigh around 220. I can play power forward in college, but I can also extend out to the No. 2 and No. 3 spots if I had to. If I get to the next level (NBA), I can see myself at the No. 2 spot.”