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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

UA forward climbing the hill

Jordan Hill can be shy at times.

When he moved in with Ivan Radenovic in 2006, he made himself virtually unnoticeable.

“”When he first came in, he stayed at my house. I don’t think he said five to 10 words, and it was my birthday that day,”” Radenovic told the Arizona Daily Wildcat in January 2007. “”There was a lot of people around. He was hanging around and didn’t say a word.””

Hill has similar moments with the media.

Like when he was asked last summer about the new two-toned paint job on his car with the excessively large rims and he just giggled.

Like when he sits before two dozen media members while hunched over, reading a stat sheet, completely oblivious to the people in the room who are anxious for a sound bite from the junior. Sometimes all they get is a grumble.

Then there was Tuesday.

For about 15 minutes, Hill was personable, funny and professional.

“”I really don’t like talking, but it’s something I have to do,”” he said, smiling.

Luckily for Hill, the 6-foot-10, 235-pound forward doesn’t have to do much talking on the court. His actions speak much, much louder.

Heading into Arizona’s Sweet 16 matchup with Louisville, Hill is averaging a double-double with 18.4 points and 11 rebounds per game.

“”In my mind, I felt that how athletic I am and how long I am, I should be averaging a double-double,”” Hill said. “”I just go out there and try to fight for every rebound there is. I know I can score.””

The maturity with the media is something UA interim head coach Russ Pennell said he might not have expected at the beginning of the season. His maturity on the court was more easily noticeable.

“”I think he has matured as a person, as well as a basketball player,”” Pennell said. “”And the thing about Jordan Hill is, he’s got one of the greatest personalities that I’ve been around. Everyone likes him.””

Hill’s happy-go-lucky personality is something that may be surprising considering his past.

His mother died of breast cancer when he was 3 years old. He stayed with six different caregivers during his upbringing.

But through all the obstacles, Hill, 21, can still flash his dimpled smile. He has still been able to help lead the Wildcats into its deepest tournament run in four seasons and capture the attention of NBA scouts, despite having played organized basketball for only two years in high school.

“”I always knew I was a good player,”” Hill said. “”I knew I was a raw player and I had potential, and I knew it was going to come out of me once I got to Arizona.””

Hill has been projected to be a lottery pick in June’s NBA Draft. He will soon be paid millions of dollars to play the game he loves. He still doesn’t understand just how he came so far in life.

“”If you take it from my perspective and see what I’ve been through in my life, you would still have that thought and never think that I would be here,”” Hill said. “”I still, to this day, really don’t know how I got here.””

“”I guess it’s just hard work,”” Hill added. “”… It’s a blessing.””

Hill said he hasn’t yet made a decision about whether he will declare for the NBA Draft or return to the UA for his senior season. He wants to finish the current season out as strongly as possible.

“”As he gets older and he gets stronger, you’ll see a prototypical power forward in the NBA,”” Pennell said. “”He has really figured out how to use his athletic ability and I think that’s what makes him so athletic.””

Hill knows that, too, whether he says it or not.

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