Jordan Hill: "I Got Heart"

Jordan Hill: "I Got Heart"
May 26, 2009, 01:05 am
Jordan Hill sits down for a chat with Jonathan Givony to discuss his training in Chicago, what he might be able to show NBA teams in private workouts, his background as a player in high school, his breakout junior season and much more.

Jonathan Givony: How has your training been going so far?

Jordan Hill: It’s been going really good. It’s been intense, it’s been hard work, and everybody is coming out here, having fun, but getting work done has been really good. We’ve been going out there, early in the morning, and don’t get done until like twelve, or two o’clock, but it’s been really good.

Jonathan Givony: What are some of the things that you’ve been working on from an individual standpoint?

Jordan Hill: Probably my footwork, just getting better footwork, stepping out, I’m knocking down the mid-range consistently now. I’m learning more post moves, learning more counter moves in case my opponent stops my first move, so it’s really been a little bit of everything to try and get me ready for the next level.

Jonathan Givony: How excited are you to get into some of these private workouts?

Jordan Hill: Really excited man, I’m coming in there trying to be the best. At the next level it’s going to be tough, and we got to get out here and just try to get to the next level, it’s basically like a job, it’s basically like interviews so we’ve got to just go out there and do what we do to get ready.

Jonathan Givony: Do you think you’re going to surprise some people in the league with some of the stuff you’re going to be able to show them in private workouts?

Jordan Hill: Yeah, definitely. It’s not just trying to surprise people, I just love the game of basketball. I’m just trying to go out there and have fun. Whatever team I end up at I just want to go out there and help them win, just try to bring the energy, bring the hard work to the table and just go out there and do what I have to do.

Jonathan Givony: It seems like you’ve been shooting the ball pretty well, in the drills I just saw. Is that something you’ve been working on?

Jordan Hill: Definitely, my mid-range has gotten a lot better now. Just trying to step out there at 15-17 feet, and when I’m on my free time I go out there and step out for the NBA threes, so both of them have been coming around really good right now, I just have to keep working and trying to get better.

Jonathan Givony: Is that something you see becoming a major part of your repertoire in the NBA, that mid-range jump shot?

Jordan Hill: Definitely, a big man can’t always be down on the block, trying all these post moves, the post moves are going to get stopped sometimes. You’ve got to have another move, another backup and that’s to step out and, if your opponents back up off you, to shoot the jumper. If they’re on you, you can take it into the lane and score it, so either way, it’s definitely a good move to have.

Jonathan Givony: Let’s flash back about three or four years to high school. You weren’t the most highly regarded guy in your class, but now you’re on the verge of being a top ten pick, what do you think happened there? What kind of high school player were you?

Jordan Hill: I started playing organized basketball my ninth grade year, I mean I played basketball when I was little just for fun, do what I have to do, but ninth grade year I played, tenth grade year I played, eleventh grade year I didn’t play because of my grades, so I just tried to get that up, then my senior year I went to Patterson, North Carolina and played there.

I went through a lot, but I just loved the game of basketball, so I worked hard at it, tried to accomplish what I wanted, and I’m just trying to be a good basketball player. The situation I’m in now, I’m thankful for it, and I can’t take it for granted, and I don’t have any regrets, all this stuff I’ve been through, I just have to keep fighting and keep going.

Jonathan Givony: Did you ever envision during your senior year of high school that you would be in the position to be a top-10 draft pick?

Jordan Hill: Definitely not. It was definitely one of my goals, but the position I was in it was hard to say, ‘I’m going to be an NBA player’ because nobody knew who I was, I was not even highly recruited. I just had the heart for the game, I just wanted to go out there and work hard at it, so if the opportunity comes to play at the next level I’m just going to go out there and do what I have to do.

Jonathan Givony: I don’t know if this is just a legend, but apparently you were seen at an AAU tournament in Houston very late in the recruiting game and Lute Olson offered you there, can you tell us what happened there, the whole story?

Jordan Hill: Yeah, I was at the Kingwood Classic, and I was playing against DeAndre Jordan for one of the games, we lost that game, but after the game, my coach was just like, ‘Arizona called me, they really like you, they’re really looking at you,’ and I was just like, ‘Man, Arizona?’ I was kind of shocked, but I did go out there and work hard at it. I was definitely shocked, when they offered me I just took my official visit, fell in love with the city, and committed right on the spot, and I’ve definitely had my good years and a lot of fun there.

Jonathan Givony: What other schools were recruiting you other than Arizona, what other options did you have?

Jordan Hill: I had Miami, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Xavier, Vanderbilt, and Illinois. I had another couple of low schools there, but Duke, North Carolina, they were nowhere in sight. Arizona, they saw something in me. I think I made a really good choice by selecting them.

Jonathan Givony: Do you feel like people may have missed the boat a little bit on you in high school, or were you just not that good?

Jordan Hill: I knew I had potential, and I was an athletic, long big man, but I just needed a good coach to take me under his wing and have faith in me, and just work with me, and Lute Olson did that, but Lute Olson retired, and I only played with him for one year, so I’ve been trying to learn the game from different coaches. I just did what I had to do, I love the game, like I said, and I’m going to work hard at it and give it my all, and listen to the people that know the game.

Jonathan Givony: You made an unbelievable jump between your sophomore and junior years, just in terms of offensively, cutting down on your fouls, just your all-around polish. What happened there that let you do that?

Jordan Hill: I was hungry. I was really hungry. My sophomore year we had Chase Budinger, Jerryd Bayless, so there were two really well known players, and no one really knew about me, so I just waited patiently and did my role.

Basically I was a little bit of a role player my sophomore year, I let those two have their fame and glory. Then my junior year came, and I was like all right, it’s time for me to step up. I started working on my game, doing everything to bring out my A game, to shoot up, and it came out my junior year, I really feel like I did a heck of a job, and I’m just going to keep going for what I want.

Jonathan Givony: How close were you to declaring for the draft after your sophomore year? We heard some rumblings that maybe you were considering it, but you decided not to.

Jordan Hill: I definitely wasn’t considering it. I knew I wasn’t ready to make that jump, I definitely made a smart move by coming back. I mean, it was hard work, I just had to go out there and wait for my turn to come up. I had faith in God, God gave me the strength to go out there and play basketball, the game I love. I was a baseball player awhile back, but I thought it was time for me to give it up as I started growing and growing, I was like, I’ll stay with basketball, that’s what I’m doing.

Jonathan Givony: So, I’ll be honest, I don’t think there’s a player in the top 10 who is going to get much flak as you from various experts, like “Oh, in any other draft he would go here, there” I mean, you’re hearing that stuff, I’m sure. How does that make you feel?

Jordan Hill: I try to not let it get to me. There’s always going to people who doubt you, there’s a lot of doubters out there. I don’t have that much publicity, so basically to me it’s just those people who are only watching the highly recruited players, who everybody is talking about, that’s who they’re going to watch.

I’m really not known out there still, and I don’t think they’ve been really watching my games, because there were some games where I really put my heart into it and played good, I think I played good in a lot of games. It really gives me motivation to just go out there and kick butt on the court. I love the game, but there’s always going to be doubters out there, I just have to shake it off and keep going, keep fighting.

Jonathan Givony: One game that really sticks out in my mind is the game at Washington where you hurt your ankle, and it looked like you were done, then they bring you back onto the court, and you can’t even really move, but you somehow manage to help your team and get back in the game. That really showed me a lot. What are your thoughts on that game in particular?

Jordan Hill: Like I said, I got heart. I got heart and love of basketball. When I hurt my ankle, I definitely thought I wasn’t going to play anymore, I thought I was going to sit out the rest of the game, but when I got off the court, the trainer was on me, moving it, and I was thinking, ‘Man, I don’t think I’m going to be able to get back out.’

But then I heard the crowd getting into it, just getting louder, louder, and I was thinking my team might be losing badly, because they were just getting hyped, but then all of the sudden this adrenaline flows through my body and I’m like, ‘Man, I’m kinda ready to go now, I’m just kinda ready to go.’

So I told the trainer, ‘I’m good, I’m going to go back out there, I’m just going to keep going, I know my team needs me.’ I went out there and gave my team that little bit I had, I just wanted to help my team in any way.

Jonathan Givony: Do you see yourself as a guy in the NBA that is going to demand double teams on the block? Do you see yourself as more of a go-to-guy like you were in Arizona or do you see yourself as more of a complementary off the ball player?

Jordan Hill: It’s definitely going to take time for me to become a go-to player, but when I get there I’m going to have to be just like I was when I got to Arizona coming out of high school, I was a role player when I first got in. So I have to just go out there and be a role player for awhile just to see what I can do. I definitely can score, but I’m just going to do the things my team needs me to do, like I said. If it comes to me being a superstar, or a go-to-guy, then that’ll be a wonderful feeling. Until then, I just gotta play my role.

Jonathan Givony: Have you been watching the NBA playoffs at all?

Jordan Hill: Yeah.

Jonathan Givony: Anything you’ve been noticing about the big guys there, like things that suit you, that could compliment your skill set?

Jordan Hill: The big guys in there, they’re kind of different, like Dwight Howard- he’s just at the basket, dunking everything, Paul Gasol- he can step out and shoot the mid-range, get rebounds, use the post move, but I think I can be more aggressive than him. He is a good player, but I think I can be more aggressive.

Jonathan Givony: Kenyon Martin, or Nene?

Jordan Hill: Kenyon Martin- I like him, he’s a beast. He’s got a lot of heart and he’s really aggressive, I like watching him.

Jonathan Givony: Could you see yourself playing a role like that?

Jordan Hill: I definitely could. It’s whatever my team wants me to do, if they need me to be a role player, if they need me to step up and score some baskets, I’m all for that, but everything takes time when it comes to the next level.

Jonathan Givony: Something you’ve been criticized for in the past is your defense, do you think that’s going to be a concern in the NBA?

Jordan Hill: I definitely don’t. I’ve been working on my footwork a lot now. I used to get in foul trouble a lot, you know. I’ve been working on footwork, and trying not to block everything. My defense is getting there, I can alter shots, I can block shots, I can do things, my footwork got a lot better, but now I just have to keep working at it.

Jonathan Givony: How much room do you have left to grow still, as a player?

Jordan Hill: I still got a lot more, a lot more. I’m very coachable, my talent, my potential is still coming out right now, I still got more post moves that I can learn, I can get my feet quicker, my mid-range could be 80%. I think I can get out there with the three point shot, if I keep working at it. I can definitely get a lot better right now.

Jonathan Givony: What are your expectations in terms of where you might get drafted? What are you hearing there?

Jordan Hill: I’m not hearing anything, I just let my agent deal with that, I know I just have to go out and keep working hard, and whatever my agent says I just have to be ready for. It doesn’t matter where I work out at, who I work out with, I just have to go out there and work hard.

Jonathan Givony: Does it matter where you go, if you go #4, if you go #9, is there a difference there for you?

Jordan Hill: Definitely not, I just want to get to the next level. I’ve been through so much in my entire life, and I hate to say it, but when I was younger I definitely had doubters who didn’t think I was going to be anything. When I look back, it’s just crazy. When my mom passed away when I was three, we were struggling, and struggling, I got into some trouble, everything kind of went downhill after my mom passed. I just want to keep going, it doesn’t matter where I go, I just want to get to that next level so I can say, ‘Yes, I accomplished what I wanted to.’

Jonathan Givony: The things that you’ve been through, how big of a role have they played in the person that you are today?

Jordan Hill: They played a very big role. They helped me grow up, made me a smarter person, especially when I moved to Arizona. Before I moved to Arizona, I was around my family, to do all that, and I was like, ‘Man it’s time for me to grow up and get out on my own.’ So that’s the reason I went to Arizona, just to be on my own, and help me grow up, and live life how I want to live it.

Jonathan Givony: Jordan, you’ve been great. Thanks for your time, and best of luck moving forward.

Jordan Hill: Thank you.

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