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Hill Upholds Promise to Texas Youths

by Scott Agness | @ScottAgness

July 25, 2013

George Hill is a man of his word. While he was honored to receive an invitation out to Las Vegas to participate in USA Basketball National Team’s minicamp, a time for individuals to make an impression on USA Basketball officials, he couldn’t bear the thought of letting kids down in Texas.

Hill, the Pacers starting point guard last season, pulled out before the four-day minicamp opened so that he could remain in Texas and his camp could go on, as promised. Teammate Paul George, however, is participating.

“You always want to do what’s right and make the right decisions,” Hill told Pacers.com on Thursday. “When it came to either trying to do the (National Team minicamp) and letting kids down, my heart is always where the kids are and impacting the community and the future of the kids. I just knew that it was a great opportunity for me to even be invited there, but I always thought it was also a big opportunity for me to keep my word to these kids and continue to be who I am as a person.”

Hill, 27, was going to be the second oldest player in camp, before both he and Bulls forward Taj Gibson (ankle) withdrew on Sunday before camp opened. Even if Hill attended, it would’ve been difficult for him to latch on to the roster with such a deep pool of point guards – Mike Conley, Jrue Holiday, Kyrie Irving, Ty Lawson, Damian Lillard, Kemba Walker and John Wall – hoping to join the likes of Chris Paul, Deron Williams and others on the National Team.

Hill proudly stands behind his decision, and although he hasn’t spoken with anyone from USA Basketball directly, he admits that it’ll surely affect his status with the program moving forward.

“I’m sure it’ll affect it,” he said. “I’m sure there’s going to be people that don’t agree with my decision but also there’s going to be people that do agree. Knowing that I just stayed true to myself and stayed by my decision to keep my word, I should be fine.

“If the opportunity is there again, and it’s there for me to take, then I’ll try to do the best I can to take it. Like I said, I feel like in my heart I made the right decision to keep my words to these kids and that’s what matters the most to me.”

Growing up on 34th Street in Indianapolis, Hill couldn’t afford to attend many camps as a kid. Outside of Billy Keller’s, he could only recall going to Michael Jordan’s camp and he left with a sour taste in his mouth. Like many celebrity camps, the person with their name on the camp was rarely seen.

“I went to Jordan’s camp where we saw him every once and a while but we didn’t see him a lot,” Hill recalled. “With a big time celebrity, the Michael Jordan camp is probably what stuck in my mind the most – me as a kid and really not seeing him a whole lot.”

Hill vows never to be that guy. Since the conclusion of his rookie season with San Antonio in 2009, Hill has hosted an annual camp in Texas. Currently, he’s on a “Ball on Border Tour,” where he’s visiting different cities in the lower part of Texas each day. The tour includes stops in places like Laredo, Eagle Pass, McAllen, and Brownsville, lower income cities on the border of Mexico and Texas.

“What we do is just go in and have one day clinics for the city and events for the city as far as a skills clinic and a G3 All-Stars versus the city border patrol or police department charity game,” Hill explained.

Don’t worry Indy – you won’t be left out to dry. The 2004 Broad Ripple High School graduate is finalizing plans for a camp in his hometown. The George Hill Skills Academy will likely be held at Emmerich Manual High School during the last week of August. Next summer, Hill also hopes to do duplicate what he’s done in Texas – impact the community and kids in less fortunate surrounding cities.

Beyond his camps, Hill has enjoyed his “offseason,” though professionals make clear that they are rarely ever off. He has spent time with family, vacationed and even went over to China at the end of June with his friend Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs, as the two promoted PEAK Shoes. Most of all, Hill has often went deep-sea fishing, one of his true passions.

“I’m just being relaxed and enjoying time off,” he said. “I’m just living life because you only live once so you should cherish all your moments.”

Hill has also been following his half-dozen boys and girls AAU teams. Most of his G3 Rising Stars teams fell in the national championship game.

And just because the Pacers season ended in early June, Hill, who signed a five-year deal with the team last July, has stayed in contact with his teammates and kept tabs on the changes made to the roster and coaching staff.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for us,” Hill said of the Pacers’ moves. “You have a veteran coach (in Nate McMillan) on the bench who knows how to play and knows how to win. With adding him to our mix and then keeping David [West] and adding [Chris] Copeland and C.J. Watson, I think we’re going to be a pretty strong team to compete with for many years now.”

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