Solomon Hill on Embracing Mentorship Role

July 1, 2015 - Pacers forward Solomon Hill explains why he is playing in Summer League games and discusses taking on a mentoring role with the team's rookies.

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Solomon Hill on Embracing Mentorship Role

July 1, 2015 - Pacers forward Solomon Hill explains why he is playing in Summer League games and discusses taking on a mentoring role with the team's rookies.
Jul 1, 2015  |  03:01

Burke on Hill: "To Me, He Looks Like He's Worked on His Game"

July 1, 2015 - Pacers assistant coach Dan Burke discusses third-year forward Solomon Hill playing in Summer League and continuing to work on improving his game.
Jul 1, 2015  |  02:36

Turner: "I'm In a Good Spot"

July 1, 2015 - Myles Turner speaks with the media following the Pacers' first Summer League practice at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Jul 1, 2015  |  02:00

Burke on Turner: "He's an Eager Learner"

July 1, 2015 - Pacers assistant coach Dan Burke discusses his early impressions rookie Myles Turner after the first day of 2015 Rookie/Free Agent camp.
Jul 1, 2015  |  00:31

Whittington on Summer League: "This is My Opportunity"

July 1, 2015 - Pacers forward Shayne Whittington talks about participating in Summer League and trying to prove his worth on the team roster heading into the 2015-16 season.
Jul 1, 2015  |  01:56

Burke on Whittington: "I Just Want Him to Get A Good Experience Playing"

July 1, 2015 - Pacers assistant coach Dan Burke discusses second-year forward Shayne Whittington's opportunity to get significant playing time in Summer League.
Jul 1, 2015  |  01:25

Watford: "You've Got to Be Confident"

July 1, 2015 - Christian Watford speaks with the media following the Pacers' first Summer League practice at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Jul 1, 2015  |  01:29

Octeus on Summer League: "It's a Blessing"

July 1, 2015 - Jon Octeus speaks with the media following the Pacers' first Summer League practice at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Jul 1, 2015  |  02:42

Hill Isn't Taking Summer Off

Third-Year Forward Chose to Play in Summer League, Embracing Leadership Role
by Wheat Hotchkiss Writer/Editor

When the Pacers announced their roster for the franchise's 2015 Rookie/Free Agent camp, most of the names on the list weren't very surprising.

Both of the team's draft picks, Myles Turner and Joe Young, were expected to join the team for the camp and Summer League, which runs from July 4-10 in Orlando. Summer League also seemed like a perfect fit for Shayne Whittington, a second-year forward who played very sparingly during his rookie season in the NBA. Most of the rest of the roster included a hodgepodge of undrafted rookies and young players who have largely plied their trade in the D-League or overseas.

But one name on the summer roster may have caught a few people by surprise. Solomon Hill led Indiana in minutes played last season. He started 78 games and was the only Pacers player to appear in all 82 regular season contests.

PHOTO GALLERY: Solomon Hill's 2014-15 Season »

Normally a player who plays that much during the regular season doesn't participate in Summer League. But Hill, entering his third NBA season out of Arizona, saw it as another opportunity to get better. No one from the coaching staff or front office told Hill he needed to participate in the summer session; he did so of his own accord.

"It was totally up to Solo," said Pacers assistant coach Dan Burke after Wednesday's practice, the first official day of the team's Rookie/Free Agent Camp.

Burke, who will coach the team in Orlando next week, said he was impressed with Hill's decision.

"I think Solo's been working hard the last two months," Burke said. "And I think coming into Summer League, not only do you get a good run in, but (you can) see where you're at on your development."

After playing sparingly as a rookie on the team that advanced to the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals, Hill was forced to the fire in his second NBA season. With All-Star Paul George sidelined for all but six games due to injury, Hill was asked to play a larger role than might otherwise have been expected. While veteran scorers C.J. Miles and Rodney Stuckey got heavy minutes on the wing, the coaches liked the idea of bringing one of those two players off the bench, which allowed for Hill to assume a spot in the starting lineup.

RELATED: Solomon Hill 2015 Player Review »

At 6-7, Hill established himself as a capable defender on the perimeter and exhibited flashes of potential on the offensive end. He averaged 13.1 points per game in November, but his production dropped off for the rest of the year. He shot a pedestrian 32.7 percent from 3-point range, but knocked down 82.4 percent of his free throws and demonstrated a knack for scoring in transition and even attacking the rim in halfcourt sets.

All things considered, Hill's sophomore season was largely a success. Still, he recognizes that he still has a lot of room to grow.

"Anytime I can be around the organization when we have scheduled workouts like this, it's a thing I want to get back to," Hill said. "I'm still young. You've got to think, last year was like my rookie year. My first year (I was) basically in a suit most of the year. So I'm basically going into my second year playing."

Burke, for one, came away impressed with the work Hill has already put in since the season ended on April 15.

"To me, he looks like he's worked on his game a lot," Burke said.

When asked to expand, Burke added: "Mainly in his shooting. Like pin-down shooting, he's elevating off the ground, he's coming off those screens hard and low. So someone's been with him just telling him to repeat that, repeat that. He's a little more decisive (with) his 3-point shot. It's square, it's the same release every time. So those are positive signs that he's getting a lot of repetition in the gym."

Hill isn't expected to play in all five of the Pacers' Summer League games in Orlando. He said on Wednesday that he's tentatively planning to play in the first game (July 4 vs. Miami) and the third contest (July 8 vs. Detroit).

RELATED: 2015 Summer League Roster »

But playing time isn't the most important part of Summer League for a player like Hill. His mere presence over the next 10 days could prove invaluable to some of the younger players on the team's roster, particularly rookies Turner and Young.

"Just to get out here, get back around the organization, and get with the younger guys is a good thing," Hill said.

Hill mentioned several times that he wants to be a "vocal leader" in this week's camp. For now, that means mentoring Turner, Young, and even Whittington. Hill said he doesn't want to overwhelm them with knowledge, but does hope to be able to provide answers whenever they have questions about a play or a defensive rotation.

"Myles is 19 years old, so he's not going to get everything right away," Hill said. "My job is to make it easy for him."

Looking forward, the leadership experience Hill gets this summer could pay dividends down the road. Seven of the 15 players on last year's Pacers roster are now free agents. There will undoubtedly be some new faces in the locker room next season. In his third year with the franchise, Hill will be one of the longer-tenured Pacers players. Given that he naturally possesses a strong work ethic and an assertive nature, Hill could be a good candidate to help fill some of the leadership void on next year's team.

Not only is the roster evolving, but so is the team's style of play. Pacers President Larry Bird and head coach Frank Vogel have both expressed a desire for the team to play at a faster pace next season. They like the idea of playing smaller lineups that could include George at power forward at times. Hill could be another wing player that might have the size to succeed at that position. He certainly isn't opposed to the idea.

"I'll play wherever coach needs me to play," Hill said on Wednesday. "Wherever I can get some time at, I'll do it."

Solomon Hill logged 2,381 minutes last season. With George back healthy, Hill likely won't see quite as much playing time next year, but he still figures to play a major role in the 2015-16 season. His decision to participate in Summer League is a clear indication that he's still very committed to getting better.

"It'd be a great mistake by him if he came in thinking, 'Well I was a starter. I've arrived in this league,'" Burke said. "I think he's got to prove, 'I need to be in there the last five minutes of close games. Trust my defense, trust my offense. Bring a nasty disposition.'

"I think Solo's got a good approach so far and the right demeanor that he could fill some of that nastiness that we need."


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