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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Hill going pro

    Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Arizona Wildcats meet the UCLA Bruins in an NCAA basketball game at McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz., February 12, 2009. Arizona up 49-31 at halftime.
    Michael Ignatov
    Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat Arizona Wildcats meet the UCLA Bruins in an NCAA basketball game at McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz., February 12, 2009. Arizona up 49-31 at halftime.

    Two of Arizona’s Big Three are departing for the NBA.

    A day after Chase Budinger said he would be going pro, fellow junior Jordan Hill made the announcement that he will do the same.

    Hill has hired an agent, meaning he cannot come back to school to play under any circumstances.

    “”I just want to thank the fans of Tucson, my coaches and my teammates for all of their support,”” Hill said in a statement. “”Playing at Arizona has been a great experience and puts me in the position to move to the next level. It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the NBA.””

    Hill is projected to be a high lottery pick in the draft. NBADraft.net has pegged him as the No. 2 overall choice, which would match the highest pick ever to come out of Arizona, Mike Bibby, who was chosen in the same spot in the 1998 draft.

    “”I think he’s improved considerably this past year -ÿmaybe as much as anyone,”” said Aran Smith, president of NBADraft.net. “”He’s real interesting. I really like him. I think he’s still got a ways to go where you can say, ‘OK, he’s going to be a real impact player on the NBA level,’ but his upside puts him over guys like (James) Harden and (Hasheem) Thabeet. I’m very excited and I think he’s got a lot of potential.””

    Hill, a 6-foot-10, 235-pound, forward from Atlanta, Ga., averaged 18.3 points, 11 rebounds and 1.7 blocked shots per game in 34 appearances this past season. He shot 53.7 percent (252-of-469) from the field and led the Pacific 10 Conference with 20 double-doubles.

    Hill received All-American honors from The Sporting News and was an honorable mention All-American pick by The Associated Press.

    Smith said there is virtually no reason for Hill to stay at Arizona unless he wanted to do what North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough did – come back for his senior season to win a national championship.

    “”(But) with Arizona currently in the situation they’re in, with the turmoil and stuff, I don’t really see that being a likely possibility,”” Smith said.

    Smith added that Hill, who set a UA single-season record for rebounds (375) this past season, could stand to get stronger, but said it was wise of him to declare for draft this year.

    “”His stock is so high right now, he runs the risk of … losing that high of a position in the draft,”” Smith said. “”I don’t think there’s any way you can turn that down.””

    Smith compared Hill to Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh, though Hill said he models his game after Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett.

    “”I admire him,”” Hill told the Daily Wildcat in December. “”He’s from (Mauldin), South Carolina, and I’m from Laurens, South Carolina, which, I want to say are like 30, 45 minutes away from each other. … He’s nice. He’s a real nice player. I like his game.””

    In three seasons at Arizona, Hill averaged 12.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots per game in 97 career appearances (79 starts).

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