State Hoops Star Making An Early Mark

If there is one player to keep in mind more than any other in the 2005 in-state recruiting class, it would be Deer Valley HS Lawrence Hill, a teenage prodigy both on and off the court. Just 15 years old, Hill is a consummate student-athlete in the truest sense with a near-two-year GPA of 4.33, a musical fluency with the trombone, and a top 100 national rankings in his respective class. DevilsDigest recently caught up with Lawrence's father Larry to learn more about his special son.

In the ever-evolving landscape that is college basketball recruiting, oral commitments are coming earlier and earlier than ever before. There have already been several verbal commitments made to universities by basketball recruits in the 2005 class despite the fact that any official signing can't take place for at least another 18 months. Just about one month ago, Arizona received an oral commitment from one of the best players in the 2006 recruiting class, Texas high school freshman Nic Wise.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that the player who is arguably Arizona's best high school sophomore is already receiving serious recruiting attention from at least 30 universities around the country, including both in-state high majors, Arizona and Arizona State. That player is 6'7 combo-forward Lawrence Hill, a player widely regarded as being among the best players in his class nationally.

Hill made a splash nationally with a strong showing at various AAU events including the prestigious Nike Camp last summer after his solid freshman campaign at Deer Valley. This year's AAU schedule is going similarly well according to Lawrence's father, Larry Hill. "They've done pretty well. They played in an AAU tournament in March out at Desert Ridge high school. The team he was on – The Arizona Magic – took second place and then Easter weekend they went to Vegas and had 60 teams in their division, 9 teams from Phoenix and they made the final 4, really with a team with just one junior."

Rated among the top 100 players in his class nationally by numerous national recruiting analysts after last summer's showing, Hill has worked hard on his game and is physically maturing quite a bit as well. "Last year he was 175 as a freshman and then this year he played at 195 and since then we've been lifting weights and exercising and he's gained 5 pounds easily," said Larry.

Even more impressive about this is the fact that Lawrence won't turn 16 years old until the start of his junior year of high school, and his long arms suggest he might not be done growing. Still, Larry isn't particularly concerned about his son's eventually height, saying, "Early on, people would ask us if we were going to have his growth plates looked at and I'm kind of from the old school, he's eventually just going to be what he is. I knew that he was probably going to be tall anyway because there's height on my side of the family and height on my wife's side."

With an 84.5-inch wingspan, even if Lawrence is finished growing, he'll certainly play at least a few inches taller than his listed height. With his athletic ability and natural shot-blocking skills, a comparison to former Sun Devil Tommy Smith isn't much of a stretch, and like Smith, Hill is the type of player who is versatile enough to see time at either forward spot at the high major level.

In describing his son's game, Larry is quick to recall an early high school memory, saying, "The first observation his high school coach made to us was that when he blocks a shot he's the second one off the floor. When a guy jumps up to shoot, then he (Lawrence) jumps up and blocks his shot." Add to that the fact that Lawrence is comfortable playing either with his back to the basket or out onto the floor and possesses fluid ball and court skills and it makes for a dangerous player. He's even capable of regularly knocking down his jump shot out to the three point stripe.

These are the skills that Larry and his coaches' plan on further honing over the coming summer and into next season. "What I'm really trying to do is incorporate getting him stronger, working on his ball-handling, and a lot more of his face the basket, shooting shots," Larry said. Lawrence's versatility on the court may eventually prove to be his strength, but that wouldn't be particularly surprising considering all that he's already accomplished off the court for someone who's just received his automobile learners permit.

In addition to being a National Honor Society member, Lawrence has a 4.33 cumulative grade point average as he nears the close of his sophomore year when including weighted honors classes. He's been in advanced band and now honors band and has been playing the trombone for over 3 years. He's already posted a PSAT equivalent score of 1030 which means that there will be absolutely no doubt about his ability to qualify academically. At this juncture, it certainly looks as though Lawrence would be able to gain admittance into most schools in the country even without a basketball scholarship. But then again, we already mentioned that versatility is the strength of Lawrence Hill. In the ever-quickening pace of college hoops recruiting, this is one player from the 2005 class to keep a close eye on.

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