Idris, pronounced E-driss, brings a tremendous work ethic to everything he does, especially basketball and school. "I know it sounds corny," Said Smith, "but it is books and basketball with Idris – nothing else. He is the ideal student athlete. He is a very smart kid, polite, serious, and consistent and…he's a gym rat." Hilliard admits that too. When asked what he does away from the court, Hilliard said, "Well, basketball takes up a lot of my time, so when I am not on the court, I rest. I know I'll be back at it soon, so I need to be ready."
The attitude and work ethic that Idris brings to the court comes from within, and can be traced back to his family in Roselle, New Jersey. Jamaal Hilliard, Idris' older brother, is a starting guard for Lafayette College in Easton, PA. "My brother always kept me working hard. I was always driving to try to be better than him. It was playing with and against him that really drove me to become better." Hilliard also gains a lot of inspiration from his mother, Patricia. "She does everything for me, she takes care of me. She drives me to all the practices, all the games, the tournaments. She is always there and I want to make sure I play my best for her."
On the court Galen Smith describes Hilliard as "Very long and athletic. He has a fantastic vertical jump, is constantly moving and always ends up where ever the ball ends up." Having worked with him for four years, Smith has seen a lot of improvement in Idris. "He started out as a back to the basket type player and has developed into a face up type player. He can really run the floor."
Coach Smith says that Idris was always a very good player, but it wasn't long ago that he sat down with Idris to have ‘the talk'. "I told him that if we were going to succeed, he needed to take on a leadership role. He needed to step up and be the guy that the others looked up to." The coach's approach seemed to have worked. "Ever since that little speech, he has stepped it up. He has become a leader and it seems like he can do it all." Hilliard remains humble though, and says, "I always try to play really hard. I know if I do that, the rest will come."
Both Hilliard and Smith know there is still a lot of work to do. "I need to improve my handle and continue to work on my jump shot," said Hilliard. Smith explained, "He has a nice shot, but we are concentrating on improving the 17-19 foot range." The Team Jersey Elite staff has also been working with Idris to prepare him for the next level. "Right now he is a cross between a SF-PF," said Smith, "We are working to make him a legitimate 3. If he continues to improve his handle I could see him actually becoming a 2-guard someday, but that is down the road."
When it comes to his recruitment Hilliard has many schools in pursuit and has taken his share of unofficial visits. This summer Idris knows that a lot of schools will be taking a serious look at him, but he is quick to tell you who was there first. "St. Joe's and Marquette were the first two to offer me scholarships. I also have offers from Providence, Rutgers and DePaul. I originally, I wanted to make a decision during the summer, but I want to see some of these schools so I may have to wait." College coaches will have several chances to see Hilliard this summer on the AAU circuit with Team Jersey Elite. His list of camps is also taking shape. "I will be attending the ABCD camp, the Eastern Invite and the Marquette Elite Camp." said Hilliard.
Coach Smith might think it was corny saying its "books and basketball" with Idris, but to me, it sounds like Hilliard has his head on straight. "You're not going to find many kids like him." added coach Smith.