Everything has come full circle for University of Arizona senior Solomon Hill.
The 6’7” senior forward and Los Angeles, California native is quite comfortable in his surroundings as the sixth-seeded Wildcats prepare to take on the second-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes in the first of two West Region Sweet 16 games Thursday afternoon at Staples Center.
“I watched a lot of games on TV,” Hill explained to the media Wednesday afternoon after practice. “I wasn’t a huge fan of the Lakers. But it’s a little different. As you get older you start to understand the magnitude of games when you play inside a building like the Staples Center.”
Hill is second on the team in scoring (13.3 per game) and tied for second in rebounding (5.4) but his true value goes far beyond that.
“He’s a leader,” head coach Sean Miller said Wednesday. “He’s matured off the court as much as any kid I’ve been around. He deserves to be [in the Sweet 16] and I know that with him on our team, it’s on of the many reasons we feel like we can advance.”
Part of the leadership he’s displayed has been on the practice court.
“He’s been our best practice player since the day he stepped on our campus as a freshman to his last days as a senior,” Miller said.
Hill sported a gold jersey at practice which is given to the Wildcat who shines about his teammates in every aspect on the practice floor. He said he practices what he preaches.
“Just getting the younger guys to understand that every time you step on the floor you have to leave it out there,” Hill calmly said. “Kind of how I do it in practice. If you’re slacking in practice, they’re going to make an example out of you. Every possession matters. It doesn’t come down to the last ten seconds of the game.”
His skills at both ends of the floor have caught the attention of Ohio State and junior leading scorer Deshaun Thomas (19.7 points per game) who he’ll be matched up against Thursday.
“He’s a great player,” Thomas said. “He’s a mismatch nightmare out there too at 6’7”, long, and can play the post, shoot the three. It’s going to be a great matchup.”
Hill and the ‘Cats are hoping practice makes perfect against the Buckeyes in the City of Angels.