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Jordan Hill: The NBA Draft's bounce-back player

MIKE BALDWIN Modified: June 17, 2009 at 5:17 pm •  Published: June 17, 2009

Jordan Hill has overcome obstacles more difficult than any adjustment he will face as an NBA rookie.

Lottery pick? There was a time he wasn't even on college coaches' radars.

Hill lived in four different residences with six different caregivers. He was 3 years old when his mother died of breast cancer.

"He's been through so much," said Kevin O'Neill, Arizona's interim coach during Hill's sophomore season. "He has the ideal NBA mentality. He's resilient. If he has a bad game he'll bounce back quickly."

Draft projections for Hill certainly bounce around. Slotted as a solid top-10 pick, he projected as low as 10th to the Milwaukee and as high as No. 5 to Washington. Before the draft lottery, some projections had him going to the Thunder, though its less likely he'd be OKC's pick at No. 3 now.

But if Thunder general manager Sam Presti trades down, Hill could be one of his top options.

The 6-foot-10 power forward was the first Arizona player in 30 years to average a double-double (18.3 points, 11.0 rebounds).

"He came light years this past season," said one Eastern Conference scout. "He was one of the most improved players in the country. If he continues that type of growth somebody is going to get a really good player."

To know how far he's come, one must understand his formative years in Hilton Head, S.C.

As the son of a truck driver, Hill was raised by a grandmother, a brother and a sister before Keith and Franzetta Ivy, of Atlanta, became his legal guardians.

His big break came with Keith Ivy's son connected with Hill during a Spanish class at North Springs High School. That friendship led to a better environment. It also led to an opportunity with an Atlanta AAU team, which is where Hill got noticed.

Keith Ivy introduced Hill to Gary Graham, who coached the Smyrna Stars. College coaches suddenly took notice of the kid who would still need a year at Patterson Prep School in North Carolina just to become eligible at Arizona.

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