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Arizona senior forward Solomon Hill: Leaner and a leader

Solomon Hill

Solomon Hill displayed fine 3-point form in the second half of last season. Photo by Chris Morrison-US PRESSWIRE

Arizona Wildcats forward Solomon Hill has a lot to say. He’s a senior. This is his team. He might be the best player in the Pac-12.

It’s his time to be a leader.

“That’s somebody who can do it on and off the court,” Hill said.

“Somebody who can talk to the players and make them understand you. And not just say it, but do it on the court and they can watch it. That’s the biggest part of it. If somebody says something to you, and they can’t do it themselves, you don’t respect that.”

So, Solomon Hill has a lot to do, not just say.

And he’s been doing it.

Coach Sean Miller raves about Hill’s offseason and his work through preseason camp, and all that will be on display tonight when the Wildcats play their first exhibition game, against Humboldt State at McKale Center at 6:30 p.m. (The game will be streamed live at www.Pac-12.com.

“When I’m watching Solomon practice right now, he’s focused, he’s better, he’s ready, he’s hungry to leave a winner,” Miller said at a press conference Friday.

“Words can only do so much. It’s actions that are more powerful. How Solomon approaches every drill on every day, it’s really inspiring for our team. I’m proud of the way he’s established his attitude early on.”

Hill, as much as anything, worked on his body in the offseason, becoming slimmer and more fit, preparing to handle his more natural small forward position after having to play in the post last season.

As of the official opening of training camp three weeks ago, the 6-foot-6 Hill, who was once north of 240 pounds during his Arizona career, said he was at 217 pounds with 7 percent body fat. He was hoping to get leaner still before the start of the season. (Arizona lists him at 220.)

“I feel good. I’ve been a lot more explosive,” Hill said.

“Even (assistant coach Joe Pasternack) said I was faster with the ball. Once you’re in shape, you’re not getting tired at the end of game. I think I can take myself to another level.”

Hill nearly pulled off a triple crown on the Wildcats last season. He led the team in rebounding (7.7 per game) and assists (2.6) and was second with an average of 12.9 points, not far off Kyle Fogg’s team-best 13.5 points per game.

Hill made 52.9 percent of his 3-pointers (27 of 51) three-pointers in final 17 games of last season, and further worked on his shot this summer.

Miller pointed to Fogg as someone who “invested his heart and soul” before his senior season. He said he’s seen similar dedication from Hill. That is leadership.

“Once you see a guy out there sacrifice every single day and give his 100 percent every time he steps on the floor … that’s a guy I can respect. I’ve seen that before when watching Derrick (Williams) play,” Hill said.

“Derrick gave it his all every time he hit the floor. And when he said something, you listened.”

Hill said he has been opening up more, doing more talking. His early message to the three freshman big men?

“Relax,” Hill said.

“Pick your poison in the paint. If you don’t have it, pass it out, we’ll get it back to you. There’s no rush. It’s not do-or-die every time we throw the ball in the paint.

“I love the aspect of teaching these guys. I love it.”

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