Villanova’s Hilliard brings versatility, savvy, shooting to Pistons perimeter

After grabbing Darrun Hilliard in the second round, the Pistons will focus on landing a small forward and frontcourt depth in free agency
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

Players from Philadelphia come with reputations for toughness and a nose for the basket. The Pistons see exactly that in their second-round pick, Darrun Hilliard.

Hilliard grew up near Philadelphia and went to college at Villanova in the city, spending four years there and evolving throughout his career. He’ll slot in behind Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jodie Meeks at shooting guard.

“Darrin is an experienced, heady player that has been part of a winning program, filled with intangibles, filled with basketball skills and toughness,” Pistons general manager Jeff Bower said. “We’re real excited to see him available in the second round and to add him to our team.

“One of the biggest things about Darrun over the years is how his role changed with the team, how he was able to always add what his team needed, whether it was scoring or getting the ball to other people or getting a big offensive rebound. Above all else, he just has an incredible respect for the game, both in how he plays it and how he approaches it with his work ethic.”

Hilliard was named Big East most improved player in his junior season, when he averaged 14.3 points a game and shot .414 from the 3-point line. As a senior, he was a first team all-conference.

“He’s a guy who’s improved a lot in his four years at Villanova,” Pistons assistant general manager Brian Wright, in charge of scouting for the draft, said. “He brings versatility, size for his position, he can shoot the ball, handle and make plays. I think think the way we play was a nice fit for Darrun.”

With Stanley Johnson capable of playing shooting guard but probably ticketed to compete for minutes at small forward and Hilliard now added to the perimeter, the Pistons now turn their focus to free agency where the shopping list has been whittled to (1) a starting small forward and (2) frontcourt depth, starting with a backup center to Andre Drummond.

“Free agency will be a lot more targeted,” Bower said. “Dealing with specific needs that we have. That’s been our approach with going through the draft and heading to free agency – looking for players that can fit our specific needs and add to the team.”