Who is George Hill?

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A “prototypical Spur,” according to the Express-News, George Hill was apparently the Spurs first choice at 26 all along. (Suck it, Chad Ford!)

I at least recognized Hill’s name because I kept seeing it on kenpom.com. Among players who used 28% or more of his team’s possessions, Hill had the highest offensive rating in the country. Will it translate to the NBA? Tough to say, since Hill only played against two prominent NCAA teams: Marquette and NIT runner-up UMass (he hung 30 on them in a IUPUI win).

But, as a 6-2 guard, his numbers were spectacular: 54.5% FG, 45% 3PT, 81.2% FT, 6.8 boards, 4.3 assists, and 21+ points a game. That alone sure makes him sound like a potentially solid back-up.

There’s more evidence of why he fits the Spurs mold in the E-N article, as well as the fact that he passed on scholarships to Florida, Indiana, and other marquee programs to stay close to family. Hell, I’ll just quote pretty much the whole thing, below the fold:

To take him, the Spurs passed over more prominent big-school guards like Kansas’ Mario Chalmers and Memphis’ Chris Douglas-Roberts, who four months ago were battling it out at the Alamodome for Final Four glory — a stage Hill couldn’t have hoped to sniff playing at IUPUI.

Had things broken differently, however, Hill could have wound up playing for college basketball royalty as well.

Coming out of Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis, Hill entertained scholarship offers from Temple and Indiana. He could have played for back-to-back national championship teams at Florida.

Instead, he chose to remain in Indianapolis, the city in which he was born and raised. He opted to stay, in part, to be near his great-grandfather Gilbert Edison, whose health was failing.

“I wanted to stay close to home so he could see me play, if he ever got better,” Hill said.

Hill’s great grandfather never got the chance. He died two months after Hill inked his letter-of-intent.

Hill’s loyalty was IUPUI’s gain: As a fourth-year junior last season, Hill starred in obscurity, averaging 21.5 points per game and garnering Player of the Year honors in the Summit League.

“He’s a very, very committed kid,” Spurs general manager R.C. Buford said. “He works hard, he’s tough. More than anything, he’s really grounded. Those type of guys and (coach Gregg Popovich) tend to work well together.”

The Spurs, however, coveted Hill for more than just his winning personality. They think he can play a little basketball, too.

One NBA scout, after watching Hill up close for much of the year, said he thought the guard could have started for any college team in the country.

Hunter surveys Hill’s gifts — the stunning quickness, dogged finishing ability and beyond-his-years basketball acumen — and sees a slightly more famous Spurs point guard.

“For the last few years, I’ve said he reminded me of Tony Parker,” (Hill’s coach at IUPUI) Hunter said.

…To Hunter, two moments from Hill’s IUPUI career will always top the highlight reel.

One came last season against Massachusetts. Hill had struggled in the first half against Gary Forbes, a future Atlantic-10 Player of the Year and a player at the time rumored to be an NBA prospect.

“If you think you’re a pro,” Hunter told Hill in the halftime locker room, “you have to be able to play with this guy.”

To that point, Hill had scored only four points. He finished with 30, leading his team to victory in the second half.

Another watershed moment came two years ago, during an early season game against Fairleigh-Dickinson in South Carolina.

Hill had been hobbled with a stress fracture in his foot, but he begged to play anyway. Hunter eventually relented, but didn’t expect much out of his injured star.

Playing on one leg, and without having touched a ball in weeks, Hill scored 19 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. A few days later, team doctors would shut the guard down for the rest of the season, and he took a medical redshirt.

IUPUI lost that game and its star, but a local legend was born.

“I knew right then how special this kid is,” Hunter said.

It wasn’t the only truth Hunter learned that night.

“I also knew I wouldn’t be getting him back for his senior year,” he said with a chuckle.

Earlier this week, the Spurs put the finishing touches on that realization. They targeted Hill from the get-go of the draft, telling him in the days leading up to it to expect a call if he remained on the board at No. 26.

The Spurs were somewhat surprised Hill lasted so long. Probably, team officials surmised, his availability had a bit to do with the anonymity afforded him at IUPUI.

“That late in the draft, most often, there are unusual circumstances for a great player to land there,” Buford said. “Probably, this is one of those where he was at a small college, didn’t play against the best teams all the time, and didn’t get much attention.”

The way his college coach sees it, Hill should enjoy his anonymity while it lasts.

“George Hill is a blessing,” Hunter said. “You have no idea how the Spurs bettered their program by picking this kid up.”

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3 Responses to “Who is George Hill?”

  1. notcontent Says:

    alright. i’ll board the bandwagon. just hope this trip is better than the dissapointing jackie butler journey of yesteryear.

  2. George Hill Says:

    Thanks for this post, I have never seen that site before and what a great resource it is for all of college basketball!

    Im going to add this to my George Hill Blog at http://georgehill.blogspot.com

  3. Travis Says:

    George Hill was like predicted to be in the second round in many mock drafts and I think moved up because he was really good in his workouts. The Spurs are also good at picking unknown mystery guys and making them into to stars so I’m not worried. And as for Jackie Butler I was rooting for that guy for so long. He becomes a steal for the Knicks and then signs with the Spurs and I’m all happy. But then the Spurs sign Francisco Elson and Pop just puts Jackie Butler on the bench. Then he got traded to Houston and now he’s got of the NBA for a year. That sucks.

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