by Scott Agness | @ScottAgness
June 28, 2013, 12:55 AM
When teams are scouting potential players and considering free agents, it’s often as much about fit as it is skill. The Pacers found just the guy they wanted that fits with the Pacers’ culture. Forget the mock drafts that had him going undrafted; team officials had their eye on Solomon Hill since November, very early in the process.
“It shows that the Pacers really like what I can do,” Hill said in a phone interview. “They like my ability to play basketball and they like me as a person as well. It just shows that some senior guys can get taken and hard work really pays off.”
Hill, a 6-foot-7, four-year player out of the University of Arizona was selected at No. 23. In what general manager Kevin Pritchard called a “weird, wacky draft,” they were happy when the 22-year-old was still available.
“You can normally tell if you could’ve traded down if two minutes after the pick, you get calls,” he said. “We had multiple, multiple calls immediately trying to trade for the kid.”
The Pacers immediately identified with two of Hill’s traits: toughness and unselfishness.
“One of the things that we thought was pretty special about him was his willingness to do anything to win,” Pritchard explained. “As we graded out No. 1 his defensive possessions, we thought he was terrific defensively and as Frank [Vogel] got more involved, he started to really like him, too.”
Vogel got a look at Hill on Monday, when Hill was at Bankers Life Fieldhouse for his second pre-draft workout with the team. That gave the undermanned coaching staff a glimpse and allowed the scouting department to “re-check things” and take another look.
They had questions about his shot selection – he shot 45.8 percent from the floor during his senior year – but he answered that later in the season. They believe he can be a consistent knockdown shooter but it’s his defense that impressed the most. Pritchard described Hill as a three-position defender, one who can guard positions 1, 2, and 3.
“We believe in defense,” Pritchard said. “That’s our mantra. He fit that to a ‘T’; it was just a matter whether his offense will come and we think it is.”
Hill, a smart young man, was already well in-tune with the Pacers. He rattled off analysis on Lance Stephenson, Paul George, Roy Hibbert, and Danny Granger and where he would fit in.
“My job will be to bring energy, get the rebounds, find the open man and just do the little things for a team that continues to be successful,” he said.
Team scouts have been in touch with University of Arizona head coach Sean Miller quite a bit. The one thing that coach Miller kept emphasizing to the Pacers, according to Pritchard, was that Hill is an absolute winner.
“He’s an unbelievable kid, and he’s an unbelievable worker,” Pritchard added.
Hill has no expectations for the draft and said he’s very thankful for Indiana afforded him the opportunity. He was home with his family in Los Angeles when NBA Commissioner David Stern called his name at the draft held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“I have to earn [playing time],” said a humble Hill. “When I have to get to practice, I have to get there early. I have to show up, work hard and play hard to get that chance to be that guy that comes off the bench and tries to produce in anyway possible.”
The Pacers’ first-round pick last season, Miles Plumlee, saw limited minutes in 14 games last season so the question is, what is the early expectation of Hill?
"I do believe he can play some minutes,” Pritchard added. “But, our job is to put as much talent out there, and then let the coaches determine who plays. We think he’s going to compete for minutes.”
In the second round, at No. 53, the Pacers traded their pick to Boston for cash considerations, according to a source. Not a bad thing, considering the last six guys taken in that spot were Furkan Aldemir, DeAndre Liggins, Pape Sy, Nando Decolo, Tadija Dragicevic, and Demetris Nichols.
Coming from the West Coast, Hill is expected to be introduced on Monday.
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