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Player Preview: Solomon Hill

October 8th, 2011 News No Comments

Pras Murthy

Keep an eye on the front page of in the weeks leading up to the basketball season for more player previews. Make sure to check out the ones you missed:

The Past:

Hill is the only returning player that started every game last season, and with the departures of Momo Jones and Derrick Williams, Hill seems to be one of the players best suited to fill the void.

Hill’s numbers from last year were modest, but also reflective of his all around game. Hill averaged 8 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.7 assists. Despite not having a consistent jump shot, Hill shot 49 percent from the field. Hill was second on the team in rebounding, providing Derrick Williams with some much needed help on the boards. Hill did not attempt many three pointers, and made 35 percent of them. Hill also contributed on the defensive end, as he was second on the team in steals.

But Hill’s presence on the floor seemed to add more than the numbers suggest. Hill has shown tremendous court vision and passing ability, with the highlight being a no look pass to Derrick Williams in the NCAA tournament, where Hill especially picked up his play, having excellent games against Texas and Duke. Coach Miller described Hill’s 16 point, 8 rebound game against Texas as his best effort to date. And even though Hill struggled to score against UConn, he contributed with 10 rebounds and 4 assists.

The Present:

With Hill entering his third year, expectations are high. Fans are anticipating a significant increase across the board in Hill’s numbers. The stage is set for Hill to be Arizona’s best player, and the extent to which he can embrace that role will go a long ways towards the team’s success.

Hill has had trouble in the past with staying in playing shape over the offseason, but it looks like he is close to where the staff wants him to be. Strength and training coach Chris Rounds has said that Hill’s weight has a tendency to fluctuate, so getting his body right will be the biggest key in him hitting the ground running in 2011.

There will be a number of shots available in the offense, as no one on the team has set themselves apart from the rest offensively. Hill is poised to receive many of those shots, and is primed for a big year.

The Future:

Last season Hill got many shots around the basket, but this year Hill will need to increase his range and be comfortable pulling up for a jumper. Whether he can do that is the biggest question about Hill going forward.

Hill’s ability to make plays for his teammates adds a unique dimension to his game. If Hill can become an aggressive scorer as well, that would open up the floor for his teammates. Last year Derrick Williams was able to catch the ball on the wing and attack the basket. Hill appears to be the best post option to take over that role with his combination of touch and craftiness. Specifically, Williams was able to draw a number of fouls by driving past defenders. Hill has shown the ability to beat his man off the dribble, and he did have success getting to the free throw line. If Hill shows the ability to finish through contact, he will really help the team’s efficiency.

It terms of leadership, there aren’t many players in the conference that have more starting experience than Hill. The Wildcats have a young roster, and will need experienced players to step up in close games. Arizona will likely turn to Hill during crunch time, especially on the road. If Hill can draw defenders, he will be able to create open shots for Arizona’s shooters. This could lead to Hill being one of the best all around players in the Pac-12 in 2011-12.

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