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Arizona basketball: Hill's climb to NBA

'He just got better every year,' Miller says of Pacers' pick
2013-06-29T00:00:00Z Arizona basketball: Hill's climb to NBABruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 29, 2013 12:00 am  • 

This is how excited Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller was Friday:

After a stream of support emanated from his Twitter account on Thursday night, he awoke early Friday morning in Hawaii and took a break from his family vacation so he could speak with an Indianapolis radio station about Solomon Hill.

And for about six minutes, Miller went on and on excitedly about the former UA forward who the Indiana Pacers chose No. 23 overall in Thursday's NBA draft.

Especially when it came to discussing how Hill transformed himself over four years with the Wildcats, the first four years of Miller's Arizona tenure.

"Unbelievable satisfaction," Miller told Indianapolis' 1070-AM. "And I say that because Solomon is one of those guys when he we recruited, he was probably a little overrated. … and he, like a lot of players, wanted to come to college, be there for about six months and be the next lottery pick and as you know it doesn't work that way.

"But his answer wasn't to run. His answer was to continue to fight. He just got better every year and every offseason he added something he needed to be a professional player. He added a will and a drive and an intelligence about him that to me a lot of college players don't have."

Ball State coach James Whitford, in an interview with the Fort Wayne (Ind.) News-Sentinel, offered similar sentiments about his fellow new Indiana resident. He said it was "great" to see Hill rewarded with a first-round pick after putting in so much work.

"He turned himself into a shooter with a great handle," Whitford told the News-Sentinel. "He became a 40 percent three-point shooter, and he did that progressively. And he still has a terrific handle and terrific first step."

Miller said that Hill, as an experienced and versatile forward, can add value to a strong Pacers team that took Miami to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals.

"There's no question he knows how to play the team game, making the extra pass, knowing where to be and the importance of rotating the right way," Miller told 1070-AM. "Solomon understands time and score and situation. He's very adept in the open court with the ball. He doesn't have to be somebody who's going to run up one side and rely on somebody to get the ball to him. He can kind of transport the ball and make a good decision himself.

"I have no doubt he'll add value. He's going to find a way. He is going to be successful. He's too competitive, too motivated, too smart, to pull up short."

Hill said he would travel to Indiana this weekend and be on hand for an introductory news conference Monday. He will then prepare to join the Pacers' summer-league team.

Free agents

Former Wildcat guard Mark Lyons was still exploring free-agent possibilities Friday, according to Chris Emens, the California agent who represents both Hill and Lyons.

The near future of former Wildcat wing Kevin Parrom was also immediately unclear.

"I do not know where I will be playing professional as of yet," Parrom said on Twitter, "but I know the future is bright and I will get paid doing what I love!"

Meanwhile, MoMo Jones, the guard who left Arizona in 2011 to spend his final two seasons with Iona, is expected to play for the Boston Celtics' summer league team.

There have been unconfirmed reports that Jones signed a free-agent deal with the Celtics, but a club spokesman said Friday the Celtics did not yet have names of who might be playing for its summer-league team.

Sensing potential

Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti said the Thunder was "excited" to see if it could work with former UA forward Grant Jerrett, who left Arizona this spring as a freshman and was picked No. 40 overall.

"He's a player with size that can also shoot the ball, has a good feel for the game," Presti said. "We're looking forward to getting to know him a little bit better."

On StarNet: Follow the Cats through the offseason on Bruce Pascoe's blog at azstarnet.com/pascoe

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