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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Scouting Report: Solomon Hill

Solomon Hill is a known commodity in the college basketball community at this point and has developed a reputation as a hardworker throughout his career. Even back in high school, Hill started off as an undersized mid-major forward who was working on becoming more perimeter oriented. He eventually became a top 100 recruit and landed at Arizona, where his versatility made him into one of the best players in the Pac-12.

Solomon Hill started off as the "other forward" on Arizona, playing alongside fellow class of 2009 prospect, Derrick Williams. Williams, of course, left after his sophomore year and ended up being taken as the number two overall pick in the draft.

At the time, they were fairly interchangeable on both sides of the ball between both forward spots. Williams took over the team, became a star, and overshadowed Solomon Hill in the process. Since then, Williams hasn't necessarily lived up to expectations in the NBA and has proven to be more of a fit at power forward than on the perimeter.

Hill has benefitted from staying in college and noticeably improving every year. Like Williams, Solomon Hill has great intangibles and a strong work ethic. He has transformed himself into a guy who played within 15 feet of the basket his first couple of years, to becoming strictly a perimeter player this season. He has improved both his volume and percentages each year from behind the arc as well as his assisting and A/TO ratio.

At this point in his development, Hill is definitely closer to a legit small forward prospect than a tweener. His ball handling has become a strength, he shoots the ball with his feet set very well, and he has always had good passing skills and feel for the game.

As an athlete, I have some reservations about Hill's ability to play the same game in the NBA that he currently plays in college. He doesn't possess good quickness and isn't explosive off the bounce. In college, he makes up for that with a vast array of moves. He utilizes hesitations, ball fakes, and can use a spin move in the lane while maintaining perfect balance. Hill also uses a jumpstop a lot, something you don't see a lot of players using nowadays. Hill is solid at changing directions on drives as well, but his moves aren't quick.

With these moves, Hill is able to manuever himself anywhere on the court while being under complete control. Thanks to his strength, he doesn't have to be quick to the rim. He can also put his head down and bully his way into the lane at times. He doesn't get great separation all the time, but has more than enough strength to muscle up shots in the lane. He also has an arsenal of post moves from his early career and hits the turnaround jumper with consistency. Everything Hill does with the ball is very smooth and under control, albeit a little mechanical.

In the NBA, it will get tougher to rely on those moves. Not only will it be harder for him to get by defenders and use strength, but it will be harder for him to finish in the paint. Hill doesn't have great height for a small forward and he will need to do a much better job at drawing contact. Hill only got to the line 3.5 times per game, despite driving into the lane a lot. A lot of it has to do with his ability to avoid avoid contact with pump fakes, but it also shows that he's not explosive going straight to the cup.

The good thing with Hill is, he's not a guy who needs the ball in his hands to be successful. He's also effective as a spot up shooter and moving without the basketball. He can cut to the rim and finish in traffic. He's also a fairly explosive jumper off of two feet, although he isn't elite. His explosiveness at the rim is better than his first step, lateral quickness, or ability to change directions. He's more creative and skilled than guys with similar profiles like Sam Young, Alonzo Gee, David Noel, Denham Brown, and Joey Graham.

Speaking of lateral quickness, that is another one of my concerns with him translating to the next level. Hill has been able to hang his hat on his solid defense in college, but how much of it will translate? His wingspan is only average for a small forward at 6-9.75 and he doesn't have the speed side to side to compensate for it.   Hill reminds me of Sam Young from a physical and athletic perspective, but Young has almost a 2 inch longer wingspan. I don't doubt that Hill will be a good defender, but will he be a good enough defender to overcome his average scoring output?

Overall, Hill does possess a lot of the qualities of a solid role player. With the success teams have found in drafting experienced SFs in the second round, you can be sure the Hill will hear his name called on draft night. Guys like Chandler Parsons and Jimmy Butler have shined in past weeks and should help his stock. However, Im just not convinced he is the same type of player either of those two are. He isnt as fluid or tall as Parsons (both are great passers, but Parsons passing ability has translated to the NBA because he can still see over defenses, Hill will have a tougher adjustment) or as great of a defender as Jimmy Butler. Hill needs something to hang his hat on at the next level and you can be sure he will continue to improve his game. He is a guy you can't count out and he deserves to have his name called on draft night.


  1. I'm pretty excited for this guy as a late first round sleeper. At Arizona he showed an ability to play well defensively within the overall scheme while also showing strong communication/leadership on that end. If this part of his game translates then I'm sure he will have an opportunity to carve out a spot as a good role player in the NBA. He might not have any one specialty, but a guy who can contribute in so many different ways while never being a liability on offense or defense is very valuable.

    1. That is certainly true. Hill is a hard guy to count out. Hes answered every question that has been brought up about him throughout his career. I currently have him ranked 41st in the top 100.