Solomon Hill knows the meaning of practice
For Arizona forward Solomon Hill the importance of the everyday grind means everything.
Hill is often described by both coaches and teammates as one of the hardest-working players on the Wildcats and a lead-by-example type of guy, but his daily motivation comes from a different place: fear — fear that he’ll be replaced, fear that he’ll be overtaken in practice.
“I’m scared,” Hill said. “When I first got here I was scared with the competition with [former Wildcat] Brendon Lavender and Kevin Parrom. When you first get on campus and you see Lavender doing windmills and shooting threes at a high rate, you get scared for your position, you get scared for your playing time.”
Hill arrived in Tucson as the Rivals.com 27th overall prospect in 2009, a four-star prospect and the top player of a UA recruiting class which included Derrick Williams. Hill used the nerves of potentially slipping from that top spot to prod him along and work harder to live up to his teammates’ talents.
The pool of talent hasn’t lessened, either. Head coach Sean Miller has brought top-five recruiting classes to Arizona in back-to-back seasons, and the team has repeatedly talked about the intensity of practice every single day.
“Hopefully, from this point on, all of our guys will feel that competitiveness every day,” Miller said. “I think that’s what’s going to get them to reach all of their own personal goals, and certainly it really cures a lot of what you worry about when you say your team is going to be ready. We have to be ready on a daily basis and that’s why we’ll be ready. That’s the hope.”
Miller said he found it funny to hear Hill talk about his fear of losing playing time, since the senior has played an important role throughout his time at the UA. Hill improved his points, rebounds and assists average all four years, even if just slightly, and is tied with senior Mark Lyons in scoring average through five games at 14 points.
He’s the leader of a top-10 team and earned first team All-Conference honors last year, but Hill knows his path beyond college is much scarier than what he feared coming out of high school.
“If you think about the NBA experience — you’re gonna compete for your job every night,” Hill said. “They’re going to bring in guys every year through a draft process.”
Early draft projections are irrelevant because most of the college season hasn’t even played out yet, but according to NBAdraft.net, Hill is the 68th overall prospect and on the cusp of being draft-worthy.
“Every [player in] a top program wants that success, wants to be a next-level player and be a part of an NBA program,” Hill said. “I think people have to understand that you have to have success at the collegiate level in order to be picked and drafted for the NBA.”
Hill feels the best way for him to reach his goal of the NBA is through success not only for himself, but for his team, just like Williams had two years ago.
Williams was already an NBA prospect, but Arizona’s run to the Elite Eight propelled him to the No. 2 overall pick.
“I competed every day,” Hill said. “I didn’t take a day off. I didn’t want a day off because I was scared that day off that Kevin Parrom or Brendon Lavender would catch me. And that’s what drives me. I’m scared of being replaced, I’m scared of somebody taking my spot or surpassing me, so every day I try to work as hard as possible and never take a day for granted.”