MADISON – There was a chance with the amount of pieces that Wisconsin basketball needs to replace in 2017-18 that guard Jordan Hill would finally get an opportunity to be the consistent contributor he knows he can be.
On the flip side, there was the possibility that Hill’s final season would once again be mostly spent watching things unfold from the bench. Considering his competitive drive, he didn’t want to take that chance and have regrets years from now.
“As hard as a decision as it was for me to make, I had to do something for my mental and emotional well-being,” Hill told BadgerNation Wednesday. “(Next year) could have gone really well or it could have gone how it went this year. I didn’t want to put myself in that situation and be somewhere where I was unhappy.”
Graduating this May with a degree in retailing and consumer behavior, making him eligible to play at another school immediately, Hill announced he will explore his transfer opportunities. His transfer, according to him, comes with no restrictions. His departure gives Wisconsin two open scholarships for next season, not to mention making walk-on Aaron Moesch the only senior.
The thought of transferring started to enter Hill’s mind during last season due in large part to his playing time. Although he was the most experienced player on Wisconsin’s bench, and ended up playing in 35 of the team’s 37 games, Hill played just 9.9 minutes per game and averaged 1.5 points and 1.1 rebounds. After Wisconsin’s season ended March 24, Hill started to contemplate what his options were.
“I sat down and thought about what I wanted out of my last season,” Hill said.
Hill said his end-of-the-season meeting with head coach Greg Gard helped convince him that he needed a change of scenery, but added Gard did nothing to push him out the door.
“The last thing (Gard) should be doing is handing out guarantees to people,” Hill said. “I wasn’t by any means expecting that. I just wanted to be a little bit reassured. I don’t want to say he didn’t do that, but I just felt what would be best for me is trying to find a different situation where I can grow and thrive somewhere else.”
After seeking the opinion of many important people in his life, Hill came to his decision over the weekend, woke up at peace with his choice Monday and then met with Gard.
“I let him know what I was thinking and how I was feeling,” Hill said. “He said he understood, wished me the best and said he’s going to help me in any way that he can.”
Hill was likely the most unique part of Wisconsin five-man 2013 recruiting class that included multi-year starters Vitto Brown, Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig (Riley Dearring transferred to Cal State Fullerton midway through the 2015-16 season). Hill was sitting on mid-major and Ivy League offers when his pregame warm-up routine caught the eye of former Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan. After the staff did its research on him, Hill was offered a scholarship and committed on an unofficial visit.
He appeared in 11 games for 25 minutes as a true freshman before redshirting in 2014-15 due to the amount of guard depth in the program. Although he became a bigger part of the rotation after Gard became the head coach, Hill averaged 2.9 points in 15.6 minutes in 2015-16.
Finishing his Wisconsin career playing in 75 games (11.1 minutes per game) and averaging 1.1 points, Hill said he’s looking for a school where he feels wanted by the staff, can have a “real opportunity” to contribute in a meaningful way and, most importantly, find happiness.
“I want to go somewhere where I can showcase my skills,” Hill said. “I’ve worked incredibly hard. I don’t do that for no reason, and I don’t want to do that for a scout team role.”
In the same breath, however, Hill made it clear that his time and ability to contribute to the Wisconsin program was a tremendous experience.
“I will never have a bad word to say about Wisconsin,” Hill said. “Even when it was difficult, this is a world-class institution and the program is incredible. All the people helped make my experience very life changing, and I’m very appreciative for it. I want to convey that as much as possible because I can’t thank this place enough for helping me become the man that I am today.”