Hill Bursts Onto The Scene

In the span of three days at the Kingwood Classic, Jordan Hill went from prospect to player. After not playing his junior season, Hill appears primed for a breakout spring.

Last Friday was the first time Jordan Hill had ever been on a airplane. His first flight was marked by a problem with the plane that caused a delay. His AAU team, the Smyrna Stars, was late arriving in Houston for the Kingwood Classic.

We're glad they made it.

Hill, a 6-foot-10 power forward, introduced himself to the national scene in a big way over the weekend. Not bad for a kid who attends Atlanta (GA) North Springs but hasn't played a minute for them.

Hill's an interesting story. His family has moved around quite a bit. He was born in South Carolina, and then moved to Ohio, spent time in Georgia, moved back to South Carolina and now has settled back in Georgia under the guidance of a legal guardian.

Just a junior, Hill has played only two seasons of high school basketball. He played at Lakeside in Georgia and Lawrence High in South Carolina. Last season, he was not allowed to participate.

"I was slipping on my grades and my parents didn't like that," Hill said. "I sat out last season and improved my grades so I can play."

Man, can he play. Understand that he's not consistent – yet – and still needs polishing but there's a player in that long, athletic frame. Right now he'll attempt some offense but he stands out when he's dunking and rebounding. Plus, he's got another thing going for him: Gary Graham.

Last season, Graham's Smyrna Stars indoctrinated three would-be high-majors to the AAU scene before few had ever heard of Lewis Clinch, Korvotney Barber and Charles Jackson. This year Graham has another squad laced with players and the table is set for Hill to be the breakout guy Clinch was last year.

Graham knew had a player on his hands after he saw him the first time. "He's not the kind who is going to make waves," Graham said. "Then he started dunking the ball and I had to think about it for a minute. I said ‘this kid is 6-foot-10.' Most 6-10s can go down on the low block and dunk it but there was something different. He ran the court a little different than your average 6-10 kid. Then he did a finger roll and you could tell this kid had an enormous amount of God-given talent."

We saw the same things last weekend. On Friday night Hill completed a few plays, nothing special but good enough to call a potential high-major player. By Sunday, he was in the process of blowing up.

"We played the Houston Swoosh [on Sunday] the last game we played," Hill said. "I blew up at that one. I blocked a couple of shots, had some dunks, had 13 rebounds and 12 points, a couple steals and two assists."

Did he mention that the game was played on center court in the biggest event of the year?

During the game there was a scramble by high-majors to find out more about Hill. By Sunday night, coaches were blowing up Graham's cell phone.

"I never thought that would happen," Hill said. "I was very excited when I heard that."

Virginia Tech went in to see him on Wednesday. Arizona, Xavier, Georgia State, Vanderbilt, Clemson, South Florida and Western Kentucky are all interested.

Arizona, via email, conveyed what appeared to be a scholarship offer. "They sent an email and said that if got my grades they'd have a scholarship waiting for me."

Hill, who will undoubtedly be in the next Top 100 list we release, has plenty of work to do. Just as Graham who noted that Hill was the recipient of a nasty dunk by super soph DeAndre Jordan not because he couldn't stop Bryant, but because he had no idea how.

"He didn't really know what to do," Graham said. "His feet were out of position. He's just going to get better and better. Before the summer is over with, because he will listen and he's a gym rat, he could break into the Top 25 easily.

Graham should know what he's talking about, he had two guys do that last summer!

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