Lawrence Hill impressive on and off the court

The names are big and the teams they play on get a great deal of exposure during any one of the AAU summer basketball tournaments. This year's Adidas Big Time Tournament was no different. Shaun Livingston, Marvin Williams, Josh Heytvelt, J.R. Smith, the list reads like an unused roll of toilet paper unraveling with a seemingly endless amount of future college basketball players.

They are the established ones. But lurking in their shadows are the players looking to catch an unknowing coach's attention or build on an already rising basketball reputation. Lawrence Hill managed to do a little bit of both during the week-long tournament, and along with his Arizona Magic teammates, they raised some eyebrows with their play.

"It's great," Hill said. "We tell ourselves to go out there and win now. It's easy not to perform well against other teams knowing that we still have next year, but the earlier we do it the better off we'll be."

Telling themselves to win and actually following through with it are two different issues - especially against the caliber of competition at Big Time. But the young Magic team followed through on their decrees, finishing with an overall record of 3 - 2, and advanced to the second round in their division playoffs. Both are feats Hill credits to the coaching staff.

"Our coaches are so devoted," Hill commented. "Coach (Anthony) Ray started this and all of the coaches are there for us everyday. Now that we have this group of players, everything is working out."

Hill, not surprisingly, has also played a key role in the Magic's success. At 6'8" he can pull double duty on the inside as well as on the perimeter. He proved to be very explosive on the break and seems to have some good inside moves going to either his left or right. His versatility and success has caused many college coaches to do a double take when scouting the Arizona talent pool.

"I'm really working out on the wing and trying to play more of a guard," Hill said. "I know that if I don't grow 4 more inches in the next two years then I'll be playing the wing in college, so I need to learn now."

As talented as he is on the court, the senior from Deer Valley High School in Glendale, Arizona, has the brains to be star off of it. He has an overall G.P.A. of 4.4, including a 4.5 last semester.

"There are a lot of nights when I get about 4 hours of sleep," Hill said. "But it's worth it because the most guaranteed thing I'll have when this is all done is a degree. And when I go to school I'll want to get one."

Right now, he seems to be leaning towards a career in education.

"I want to be a math teacher. I love math and teaching kids because you get a chance to show them how things work. I think it's the most important subject to learn because you use it every day," Hill said.

This could prove to be quite a coup for the team that lands Hill, as his education seems to be a top priority and will he'll likely play four years.

Heading into his senior year, Hill is being courted by numerous Division One Programs including: Arizona, Stanford, USC, Oregon State and Iowa State. He would like to stay close to home and enjoys the thought of playing in the Pac-10. "From a basketball standpoint, I like Arizona," Hill said. "I know a lot of their players. I talk to Channing Frye all of the time and they have some great coaches. But I'd like to go to Stanford for academics. They also have a great basketball program and I could get my degree there."

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