Hill eats right to get ready for new position
In the week before school started, the Arizona men’s basketball team traveled to the Bahamas and stayed at the Atlantis Paradise Island resort for a brief exhibition tour. Toward the end of the trip, head coach Sean Miller tweeted a picture of senior forward Solomon Hill shirtless on the beach.
“Not too many college basketball players have worked harder this off season than this guy – hard to recognize!” Miller tweeted.
The picture showed a significant physical change in Hill from how he had looked at the end of the Wildcats’ disappointing National Invitational Tournament season in March. The thinner, leaner Hill dedicated himself to eating the right way in the offseason as he transitioned back to his natural small forward position, rather than the undersized power forward role he played for last season’s team.
“I’ve been watching and changing what I eat,” Hill said. “No more fast food, no more late night snacking.”
The addition of 7-footer freshman Kaleb Tarczewski, coupled with the progression of the 6-foot-9 sophomore shot-blocking specialist Angelo Chol, allowed Hill to move back to the “three” spot in the rotation, which means two things above all else for Hill.
“I have to guard little guys now,” Hill said. “They (Tarczewski and Chol) can bang with those big guys.
“No more taking the ball out. Now we have guys who have set jobs. It relaxes me mentally.”
Hill, who is listed at 6-foot-7, averaged 12.9 points per game and led Arizona with 7.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game for the Wildcats, who lost to Bucknell in the first round of the NIT.
The move back to small forward comes after a season in which Hill says the Wildcats were “punched in the mouth” against Bucknell, and other games were lost because of Arizona’s lack of size in the paint.
In order to make room for Tarczewski and Chol, who will get a significant bump in playing time this season after averaging 12.2 minutes per game in his freshman campaign, Hill had to get into better shape, starting with his diet — but don’t expect to see him cooking on the Food Network anytime soon.
“Some days I’ll cook,” Hill said. “I’m learning from my roommates. I like the things that are easy to make.”
Aside from a healthy breakfast, Hill keeps the cooking simple, often making a turkey burger or baked chicken – along with “fruit, but no juice.”
His commitment to his diet and workout regimen has resulted in a noticeable difference in his conditioning and running, which will help him not only defensively against wing players, but also offensively in terms of running the floor in fast break situations.
“I watch him run and move, and he’s better than ever before,” Miller said. “Solomon doesn’t get enough credit for how hard he’s worked. Physically he’s changed as dramatically as I’ve seen. I’m anxious for him to be able to play natural position on a good team.”
Hill’s move to the wing, coupled with his tenacity under the basket and ability to get to loose balls, can only help a Wildcats team that now has “depth and size in big men,” Miller said.
“It’s a stepping stone to where I want to be,” Hill added. “Just to get ready for conditioning, that alone will carry me to where I need to be.”