Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Better Served Playing Hoops?

I still wonder about Walter Hill.

After initially committing to UGA for basketball, Hill was offered, and he accepted, a football scholarship from Mark Richt and Georgia's football program.

I'm not casting any blame, because there are always circumstances that are not apparent to everyone. It was still nonetheless somewhat disconcerting to learn that the football team, with all of their scholarships, had apparently gone around the basketball team to recruit one of the hoops squad's few permissible commits. Many competing basketball teams at other schools won't actively recruit a basketball player once he commits to Georgia. How, then, did one UGA sports program "cannibalize" another UGA team? As I understand, Dennis Felton was caught offguard by the football team's continued recruitment of Hill. Where was the breakdown? What happened to the communication?

Anyway, Hill is the kind of athlete that makes coaches want to compete for his services. He was named all-state during his football career at East Hall High School. He played wherever his team needed him most-- lining up behind center his junior year, and then swithching to receiver for his senior season.

As talented as Hill was in football, he was arguably even better on the hardwoods. He was named the AAA Basketball Player of the Year by the Georgia Sportswriters Association. He went for 40 points against a Columbia High School team that featured Division 1 talents, Jeremy Price, Lance Storrs, and Travis Leslie. Hill led his team to the state championship.

Since deciding to come to UGA for football, Hill finds himself pretty far back on the depth chart. After red-shirting last year, he begins 2008 fall practice as the 5th at his position, behind Kenneth Harris, Kris Durham, Tavarres King, and Demiko Goodman. Harris and Goodman are both seniors, so there is the possibility that Hill will have plenty of playing time, starting next year. But that's not a given. Georgia will surely recruit at least 3 more receivers to come in next fall.

Of course, Hill could end up moving up the depth chart this year based on his talent and hard work. Other players could be suspended. Or he could get lots of playing time this year because Georgia will use that many receivers in Mark Richt's attack. He could fill a role as a situation player, getting put into the game to run fade routes into the end zone, or to match up with teams who have short cornerbacks. It's hard to predict.

My guess is, though, that things will work out about as they appear now. Hill will get some playing time this year, but the majority of the minutes will go to the seniors, because they are seniors, or to the guys ahead of Hill because they are more natural receivers.

Seeing the way things are lining up and anticipating only limited playing time for Hill on the gridiron, it all makes me think of what could have been. I am sure that Hill would be starting at the shooting guard for Georgia, had he initially enrolled to play basketball. And he could still possibly play both sports-- football until the end of the season and depending upon his past playing time or projected future spot on the depth chart, join the basketball team as a walk-on some time in January. I doubt that he would opt to play basketball at all, but if he did, he has the ability to provide a boost to the hoops squad during the team's difficult SEC slate.

We'll see. And this will probably be my last post on the subject. Hill is a grown man. Makes his own decisions. Doesn't need me to second-guess them.

But with Billy Humphrey gone, UGA hoops sure could use some help this year. I think of Hill's basketball talent, look at the football depth chart, and I just wonder.

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