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Solomon Hill, 6'6, Senior, Small Forward, Arizona
Bridging the gap between Arizona's explosive, sometimes erratic backcourt and its stable of highly touted young big men, Solomon Hill has provided maturity, leadership, and consistent production for the Wildcats. A versatile forward who has played a variety of roles over his four year collegiate career, Hill has settled in as the team's starting small forward, establishing himself as arguably their most valuable player, while showing improvement in a number of areas with implications on his NBA draft stock.
Standing 6'6 with a strong, 220-pound frame, Hill worked diligently in the summer to improve his body, and has reaped the benefits this season. Coming into the season in the best shape of his career, Hill looks quicker and leaner than he did as an underclassman. The California native still lacks elite athleticism, but when you couple his improved physique with the development of his offensive game, it is fair to say that Hill has made considerable headway in removing the tweener label he earned earlier in his career.
After playing the power forward position for long stretches of his junior season, the arrival of Arizona's heralded crop of freshman big men (Brandon Ashely, Kaleb Tarczewski and Grant Jerrett) seemed to lend itself to Hill spending more time at the small forward position as a senior. The Fairfax High School product has relished that opportunity. He's always done a little bit of everything for the Wildcats, and that hasn't changed, but he's now doing so at the position he'll be asked to play at the next level thanks in large part to the work he put into developing his perimeter game and physique.
A liability from the perimeter as a freshman, making just 4 of his 18 attempts from beyond the arc, Hill has improved his range in each of his seasons in Tucson. Shooting the three at a 42% clip this year, on nearly four attempts per game, the senior has turned a weakness into a strength by incrementally improving his footwork, mechanics, and confidence year-by-year. Hill's set shot has become his most prominent weapon on the offensive end and a significant part of his value proposition from a NBA perspective.
In addition to his ability to knock down shots from the perimeter, Hill also possesses a sound floor game. He lacks the dynamic ball-handling ability and speed to consistently create shots from the perimeter and is not the type of player who can dominate games with his ability to consistently get to the rim in isolation or pick and roll situations, but he is an opportunistic slasher who can take what defenders give him both in the half court and transition with powerful straight-line drives. With his superior strength and maturity, he can often overpower weaker opponents en route to the basket, which is a big reason he's able to get to the free throw line at the rate he does.
Doing a good job using his body to protect the ball and getting to the line on a respectable 37% of his possessions, Hill is not a great finisher in a crowd, but he picks and chooses his spots well, especially when pushing the break himself. He uses long strides, spins, reverse pivots, and step through moves effectively when his defender gets out of position off the bounce and a reliable turnaround jump shot spinning over his right shoulder when posting up on the left side to exploit mismatches.
Hill also shows good court vision as a passer. He lacks the quickness and ball-handling ability to be prolific at getting into the paint creating shots for others, but he's very unselfish and adept at finding the open man within the flow of Arizona's offense, often passing ahead intelligently in transition to get his teammates easy looks in the early offense. His high basketball IQ and ability to do a bit of everything, coupled with his improved perimeter shooting, give him ideal role-player potential at the next level.
Spending more time on the perimeter, Hill has seen his rebounding numbers dip to 6.7 rebounds per-40 minutes pace adjusted this season (down from 9.7 per-40 pace adjusted last year), thanks in large part to the presence of Arizona's freshmen big men. He remains a very solid rebounder, however, showing a willingness to box out and scrap for loose balls in the paint.
Defensively, Hill does a good job helping his teammates and playing within Arizona's team concept, but struggles to deny dribble penetration and close out shooters effectively. Lacking a degree of lateral quickness, he'll need to find ways to overcome his physical limitations on the defensive end to hold his own at the next level. His strong frame, high basketball IQ and 6-9 1/2 wingspan helps his cause, but this might be the biggest thing NBA teams will want to study more closely in private workouts during the pre-draft process.
Hill may not be a flashy prospect for the next level, but he's a mature player who has consistently improved his game throughout his college career and offers some intriguing value as a role-player. A candidate to fill the type of role Wesley Matthews or Jared Dudley did early in their careers, Hill's play this season will earn him plenty of looks from teams looking for depth and immediate production at the small forward position.