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Sean Miller makes the case for Solomon Hill on All-Pac-12 team

Solomon Hill

Solomon Hill strikes his 3-point pose against UCLA last Saturday. Photo by Chris Morrison-US PRESSWIRE

The Pac-12 selects 10 basketball players as first-team all-conference, and Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller knows one name he wants to see on there.

“Solomon Hill has had an all-conference season,” Miller said on his weekly radio show on 1290-AM (KCUB) on Monday night.

“It would be really disappointing if Solomon wasn’t an All-Pac-12 performer. He’s gotten better and better with each passing week.”

And that includes his 3-point shooting.

Miller notes that San Diego State, in Arizona’s sixth game of the season, didn’t bother to guard Hill, playing off him and letting him shoot. Gonzaga did the same, planting 7-footer Robert Sacre in the lane, taking its chances that Hill wouldn’t make the Bulldogs pay with open jump shots.

That strategy worked: Hill was 1 of 9 from behind the arc in those games, both losses.

“Right now, there would be nobody we would play who would dare do that,” Miller said of leaving Hill unguarded.

Hill’s shooting slump extended into Pac-12 play — he went 0-for-6 on 3-point attempts in the first four league games — but look at him now:

He’s actually ninth in the conference in 3-point shooting in league games.

Hill is shooting 41.5 percent (17 of 41) in 17 conference games. Take away his 0-for-6 start, and he’s making nearly 50 percent in the past 13 games.

“He has settled in,” Miller said.

“He worked very hard in practice and made a few in games, and as he made a few, his confidence really settled in. He takes good threes. I’m as confident when Solomon shoots an open three right now as with anybody on our team.

“That’s a tribute to Solomon sticking with it.”

Hill made 31.8 percent of his 3-pointers (21 of 66) in his first two seasons.

“You look back at how he shot the ball as a freshman and how he shot as a sophomore, he is a much better shooter than he was at any time of his career,” Miller said. “And I think the best if yet to come for him.”

Hill isn’t a prolific outside shooter, but he has done enough to make teams have to defend him at the 3-point arc, which creates more space for his all-around game and for his teammates.

“Solomon right now is probably our most explosive, consistent player. He just makes plays,” Miller said.

“Some of our best plays this year have happened in transition when Solomon has almost been our point guard. He has learned to make better decisions with the pass and off the dribble. He has made better decisions driving the ball to the basket when he gets fouled.”

In conference games only, Hill is second in the league in rebounding (8.1) — not bad for an undersized 6-6 power forward — ninth in 3-point shooting, 14th in shooting percentage (50.4) and 15th in scoring (12.4 per game).

First-team all-conference?

“One of the reasons we’re better now than we were in the non-conference,” Miller said, “is that Solomon is a much better player as an individual.”

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