Jeremiah Hill has a framed picture of former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant holding him as a young boy (see photo at left). Now, there’s a chance Hill might be wearing the purple and gold of the Lakers come fall.
The picture was taken when Bryant visited South Korea in 1998, when Hill was 4 years old.
“My dad (Tim Hill) was stationed there at the time and Kobe came to visit the base,” Hill said. “He’s been my favorite player ever since.”
The 2013 Richmond Hill grad has a tryout Sept. 9 with the South Bay Lakers, LA’s NBA GLeague team. The GLeague, sponsored by Gatorade, is the successor to the NBA D-League, short for developmental league, which is akin to Major League Baseball’s minor leagues.
“My agent is based in California, and he believes in me as much as I believe in myself that I can play in the NBA,” Hill said. “He’s been working really hard to set things up for me.”
While in California, Hill will also have a personal workout for the coaching staff of the Sacramento Kings, and his agent has told him to expect an invite soon to try out for the Erie Bay Hawks, the GLeague team owned by the Atlanta Hawks.
“Basically, my agent said he expects me to leave California with an offer of some sort,” Hill said.
Patience has been the key, said the 6’2” guard, who was selected to play in the NCAA Division II all-star game this past spring following his senior season at Valdosta State.
“A lot of guys I played with in that game have already left to sign contracts overseas,” he said. “My agent just kept telling me to work hard, be patient and be ready when the opportunity came, and here it is.”
As a Wildcat senior in 2013, Hill averaged 18 points a game and led Richmond Hill to its first Sweet 16 appearance in the state tournament in nearly two decades. He spent his freshman year of college playing at Savannah State, but then transferred to Valdosta State, where he flourished.
“I am 100 percent happy with the route I took,” he said.
As a senior for the Blazers, Hill was named a Division II All-American and the Gulf Coast Conference Player of the Year. He averaged nearly 20 points per game and led his team in scoring, assists and steals.
He has spent the summer back in Richmond Hill working out.
“My dad is always finding new workouts and talking to me about my diet,” he said. “I’ve been lifting a lot, too, trying to get stronger.”
Hill said he has added about 10 pounds of muscle to his 170-pound frame.
“I think my game is suited to the NBA because of the way it’s evolving,” he said. “It’s more about shooting and being able to get to the basket without being held.”
Sound familiar? Think Steph Curry.
Hill also spends a lot of time talking basketball with his younger brother, Isaiah, a 2016 Richmond Hill grad who now plays for St. Leo University in Florida.
“We used to go at each other a lot one on one when we were younger,” Hill said. “Now we enjoy playing ball together and I try to give him as much advice as I can.”
Should Hill sign on with a GLeague team, his chances of making an NBA roster are good. According to its website, 44 percent of players on NBA rosters at the end of last season had spent time in the GLeague.
“I’ve been dreaming about this since I was little,” Hill said. “I just have to keep working hard and show them what I can do.”