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June 27, 2013
Solomon Hill had second round to undrafted attached to his name throughout the draft process.
On Thursday night, not only did Hill get drafted but he worked his way into a surprise first-rounder. The former Arizona forward was selected 23rd overall by the Indiana Pacers in the NBA draft.
"It was kind of surprising, but in a sense it was well-deserving," Hill told GOAZCATS.com late in the evening via phone call from Los Angeles. "I felt that I put the work in and I was a player that showed I could compete and get better every year."
In a release by Arizona, Hill added: "It feels great to be a first-round draft pick, and it's very humbling. I've learned that you have to focus on being the best player you can be and do the little things to help your team win. That's something Coach (Sean) Miller helped me focus on over the last few seasons, and it's great to see the hard work pay off."
Hill's agent, Chris Emens of Octagon, told GOAZCATS.com earlier in the evening that his client's selection was consistent with the inconsistency that played out throughout the first round, starting with Anthony Bennett's selection as the top overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"Solomon is NBA-ready," Emens added. "He can defend, rebound, play multiple positions on offense and defense."
On Twitter, UA head coach Sean Miller said he wasn't sure if he's "ever been happier as a coach" than the moment Hill's selection flashed on the screen.
"Solomon's desire to excel, his competitive spirit, basketball intelligence and team centered attitude are unmatched," Miller tweeted after the pick was announced. "These same characteristics will continue to serve Solomon well on the professional level. Solomon will have a great career in the NBA!"
Hill, who averaged 13.4 points as a senior last season and improved his 3-point shooting each of his four seasons, worked out for the Pacers twice prior to the draft.
On paper, Hill's addition to the Pacers' roster looks like a solid fit with a possibility of contributing immediately. Emens said plenty will depend upon how the rest of the offseason shakes out for a team that pushed the NBA champion Miami Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals this past season.
"I think, for Solomon right now, he's just happy to go in and play whatever role they ask him to play," Emens said.
Hill said the plan is to fly to Indiana on Monday for his introductory press conference.
"I love the position I'm in," Hill said in the release. "The Pacers are a great team that competes for championships. I now get the chance to learn from their older guys, so I have a chance to carve out a role and do whatever I can to help the team be successful."
The 6-7 forward is Arizona's first draft pick since Derrick Williams was selected second overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2011. Hill also is the 64th NBA draft pick in school history.
Less than 90 minutes later, Grant Jerrett became No. 65 when the Portland Trail Blazers selected him in the second round with the 40th overall pick.
Before the night ended, however, Jerrett was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder for cash.
Jerrett was widely criticized for his decision to leave school after just one season, and with averages of 5.2 points and 3.6 rebounds. But his 40.5 percent clip from the 3-point line as a 6-10 forward got him noticed throughout the draft process.
Like Hill, he was another that was listed up and down the draft board with the possibility of going undrafted.
"Although (Jerrett) was part of our program for a short period of time, he demonstrated a multitude of talents as a player," Miller said in a release. "His high skill level, strong work ethic and unique size give him a very bright future in the NBA. I'm excited to watch him continue to develop, and I look forward to watching him reach his vast potential."
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor
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