Jordan Hill: The NBA Draft's bounce-back player
Arizona power forward has shown ability to recover on and off the court

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By MIKE BALDWIN, Staff Writer
Published: June 17, 2009

Jordan Hill has overcome obstacles more difficult than any adjustment he will face as an NBA rookie.

University of Arizona coach Russ Pennell, right, talks to Jordan Hill in the second half of an NCAA Midwest regional men's college basketball tournament semifinal game against Louisville. AP photo

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Lottery pick? There was a time he wasn't even on college coaches' radars.

Hill lived in four different residences with six different caregivers. He was 3 years old when his mother died of breast cancer.

"He's been through so much," said Kevin O'Neill, Arizona's interim coach during Hill's sophomore season. "He has the ideal NBA mentality. He's resilient. If he has a bad game he'll bounce back quickly."

Draft projections for Hill certainly bounce around. Slotted as a solid top-10 pick, he projected as low as 10th to the Milwaukee and as high as No. 5 to Washington. Before the draft lottery, some projections had him going to the Thunder, though its less likely he'd be OKC's pick at No. 3 now.

But if Thunder general manager Sam Presti trades down, Hill could be one of his top options.

The 6-foot-10 power forward was the first Arizona player in 30 years to average a double-double (18.3 points, 11.0 rebounds).

"He came light years this past season," said one Eastern Conference scout. "He was one of the most improved players in the country. If he continues that type of growth somebody is going to get a really good player."

To know how far he's come, one must understand his formative years in Hilton Head, S.C.

As the son of a truck driver, Hill was raised by a grandmother, a brother and a sister before Keith and Franzetta Ivy, of Atlanta, became his legal guardians.

His big break came with Keith Ivy's son connected with Hill during a Spanish class at North Springs High School. That friendship led to a better environment. It also led to an opportunity with an Atlanta AAU team, which is where Hill got noticed.

Keith Ivy introduced Hill to Gary Graham, who coached the Smyrna Stars. College coaches suddenly took notice of the kid who would still need a year at Patterson Prep School in North Carolina just to become eligible at Arizona.

"Jordan's a great feel-good story for anyone willing to dream and anyone that believes in the power of love and prayer," Graham told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

One of the oldest players in the draft — he turns 22 in July — Hill's game has been compared to Toronto's Chris Bosh.

"Outside of Blake Griffin, he might be as close to being ready for the demands of an 82-game schedule as anyone else in this draft," said one scout. "There are not many guys in this draft with his size, length and athleticism. He should make a significant impact as a rookie."

O'Neill, who is helping compile draft analysis reports for the Memphis Grizzlies, said Hill has better shooting range than given credit and could play a few minutes each game at center.

"He needs to add a little more bulk and a couple more go-to moves in the post," O'Neill said. "But he's made such leaps and bounds that once he concentrates on just basketball he's going to keep getting better."

Hill's draft stock has yo-yoed the past two weeks. Some reports earlier this month had Hill slipping to 10th or lower. A week before the draft, speculation is Hill could go as high as No. 4, no later than No. 8 to the Knicks.

No one would have projected Hill would be a top 10 pick a few years ago when he was shuffled from residence to residence. He played only two years of high school basketball and played for three different coaches at Arizona.

"A lot of people would have cracked," said Franzetta Ivy. "To lose his mother, then have his father and stepmother travel a lot, to staying with us, he literally was by himself (at Arizona).

"He has never gotten into any trouble. He'll be a good role model for kids. He's matured a lot. Going to Arizona, far from home, and improving both in school and in basketball, speaks volumes."


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I don't disagree. I thought you'd be interested to know the quality of some OJC poster on the Times. I see what you're putting up with as well and I think it's time to let it go. As long as Seattle posters flame here or OKC posters flame on the Times site, they deserve what they get.
Mike, Stanwood - Jun 19, 2009 at 12:19 pm
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Why are seattle people on this forum?

See how that works Mike?
Brian, Ford Center - Jun 19, 2009 at 9:48 am
Jordan is really hot...I wonder if he's into dudes...
paul, yukon - Jun 18, 2009 at 9:57 pm
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By top down, I meant the convertible..:)
Mike, Stanwood - Jun 18, 2009 at 9:35 pm
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I have seen some of it and I would encourage Seattle posters to give it up. Nothing is gained by sticking around. I will say they at least have a reason to be ticked off. OKC posters on a Seattle board are creepy and weird. Kind of like taking your girlfriend and then driving by your house with her the top down and giving you the finger. Just bad sportsmanship.
Mike, Stanwood - Jun 18, 2009 at 9:10 pm
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75 posts in less than a month. Crider has, indeed, been busy. I wouldn't worry about it though, Mike. Have you seen what we put up with on this forum from the Seattle folks?
Rob, Oklahoma City - Jun 18, 2009 at 7:30 pm
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Can I interject for a moment? I thought you'd be interested in seeing what some Thunder fans are posting on the Seattle Times NBA forum. This individual is particularily vile as well as illiterate as you can see and continues to post nonsense about the Sonic/Thunder debacle from last year. Can someone please take him back? Thanks

Re: Why are Oklahoma City people in this forum?
by cridernokc on Thu Jun 18, 2009 11:35 am

We're here to remind you that you lost a team.Yes,this is a cause Somehow thought of ya blaming OKC. (OKC) proud to have a NBA team. We come here looking to just finded info but only see a horrible BackLash. Would you not defend your Hometown? It's completely upsetting to here cramp that is incorrect. So to tell us to leave, good luck maybe quit insulting , Perhaps!cridernokc

Posts: 75
Joined: Fri May 29, 2009 6:21 am
Location: Oklahoma City, OK
Mike, Stanwood - Jun 18, 2009 at 6:21 pm
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Philip, only one of those guys you named is a true PF.
Brian, Ford Center - Jun 18, 2009 at 2:33 pm
I'm not sure if Taj Gibson declared for the draft, but he would seem to be a better fit than Hill, he's a better post player. Still, if they can't get Blake, got go with Curry. Westbrook and Curry...lethal.
TY , OKLAHOMA CITY - Jun 18, 2009 at 5:04 am
Hopefully they find a way to get Blake, but if they chose a guard, got to go with Curry.
TY , OKLAHOMA CITY - Jun 18, 2009 at 4:32 am
Are you saying we don't need a 6 10 power forward? He averaged a double double, but we don't need a power forward? I guess we don't need a blake griffin type player either- cause we don't need any more forwards. Dude- We need guys who aren't afraid to bang under the boards. I'd seriously consider trading down for this guy, if it can also bring us a wily veteran shooting guard.
Jim, Edmond - Jun 17, 2009 at 7:45 pm
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I say absolutely not. We have three forwards already: KD, Jeff Green, & Collison. We do not need another forward. What the Thunder need (& need badly) are: a good shooting guard & a center, good defenders at either position are a huge plus.
Philip, Oklahoma City - Jun 17, 2009 at 3:50 pm

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