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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    NBA DRAFT: Hill sees clear through jeers

    Former Wildcat Jordan Hill shows his new NBA jersey Thursday night in the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. He was chosen No. 8 overall by the New York Knicks in the 2009 NBA Draft.
    Former Wildcat Jordan Hill shows his new NBA jersey Thursday night in the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. He was chosen No. 8 overall by the New York Knicks in the 2009 NBA Draft.

    NEW YORK -ÿNBA commissioner David Stern walked up to the podium to announce the eighth overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft on Thursday night in WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden.

    “”The New York Knicks select,”” Stern said, leaning closer to the podium to make sure he read the correct name. All occupants of the arena held their breath. “”Jordan Hill, from the University of Arizona,”” Stern finished.

    At first there were cheers. As Hill stood up from his table in front of the stage, he shook hands with his agent, Kevin Bradbury. Then the theater shook, as the cheers melted quickly into jeers.

    New York Knicks fans had their minds set on getting Davidson’s Stephen Curry, who was picked No. 7 overall by Golden State. But despite the barrage of boos, Hill was understanding and able to find the positives of being drafted by New York.

    “”That type of crowd, if they don’t get who they want, they will give a couple of boos,”” Hill said, sporting a black Knicks baseball cap that seemed to match his black suit perfectly. “”But there was some that wanted me to go there, wanted me to come to the Knicks. I feel appreciated. But it’s just how you feel. I’m just going out and trying to play basketball. I’m just happy I’m on the team.””

    Though mostly boos filled the theater, there were some fans. One man held up a sign that read “”Hill + LeBron = KNICKS 2011 CHAMPS,”” making a reference to the fact that the NBA MVP LeBron James becomes a free agent after next season.

    This past season Hill became the first Wildcat to average a double-double in 30 years with 18.3 points, 11 rebounds and nearly two blocks per game at Arizona. The 6-foot-10, 235-pound forward, played a huge part in leading the Wildcats to a post-season berth and to the Sweet 16 round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament.

    Improving through his tenure in Tucson, Hill’s 4.7 point, 4.1 rebound average as a freshman jumped to 13.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game as a sophomore. His breakout junior year came as he developed offensively and avoided foul trouble, averaging 35.7 minutes per game in his final year.

    Hill played for three different head coaches at the UA: Lute Olson, Kevin O’Neill and Russ Pennell. Sean Miller, who has taken the reins for next season, praised Hill for his new place in the basketball world, though he never had a chance to coach him.

    “”We are very proud and happy to see Jordan picked so high,”” Miller said in a statement through the UA. “”I expect Jordan to continue the Arizona basketball tradition of a high draft pick going on to a long and successful NBA career.””

    There is a little bit of history to go with Hill’s draft pick. Four years ago the Knicks also picked former Wildcat Channing Frye with the same No. 8 pick. He was the last Arizona player to be chosen in the top 10.

    Knicks president of basketball operations Donnie Walsh told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols right after Hill was drafted that New York is satisfied with its new forward.

    “”I think we were lucky to get a player of his caliber. This is a big man,”” Walsh said. “”He’s athletic, he can score, he can block shots. He’ll end up rebounding. I wasn’t sure what we were going to get down there because it looked like the guards were all going and we weren’t able to move up.

    “”When I saw that it was going to be Curry or Jordan Hill, I thought, ‘Well, we can’t lose now.’ Jordan Hill will be a very good player for the Knicks,”” Walsh added.

    As for the boos? Last year the Knicks picked 6-foot-8 forward Danilo Gallinari of Italy sixth overall, and he was booed even more so than Hill was.

    “”I’m definitely prepared,”” Hill said with a smile. “”I don’t let anything get to me. I’m here to play basketball. I’m just waiting for that chance.””

    Stay with the Wildcat for more to come.

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