Arizona continued its rich tradition of sending former players to the league Thursday night as both former wildcats, Solomon Hill and Grant Jerrett were chosen in the draft. Solomon Hill surprised many besides Indiana as he was chosen in the first round (23rd) overall to the Pacers. This makes him the 18th first-round draft pick for the Arizona Wildcats. On the other hand Jerrett went as project in the middle of the second round at 40th overall to the Portland Trailblazers, soon to be traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder. With these two young men being drafted into the NBA, it puts the Arizona program atop the rest as it now has 36 draft choices since 1988; tying them for the most over this period. Sean Miller has accounted for 3 of these draft picks already, with more to come.
Solomon Hill, a versatile do-it-all type of player at Arizona showed hard work pays off. He came into the Arizona program a high-profile prospect, but did not take care of his body, his response? Changing his diet, working hard in the weight room, and in the gym to propel him to stuffing the stat sheet earning him a spot on the first All-Pac 12 team. Indiana drafted him based on the fact that Hill can help now and that’s exactly what they need for a deep playoff run. Recently in the NBA, the older rookies have faired well, especially in the NBA playofffs, which only helped Solo’s case. He was flown out to Indiana for two work-outs and that’s all she wrote. He will compete for minutes at both the shooting guard and small forward position. He won’t bring a ton of scoring to the team, but he can create his own shot and will bring tough defense, rebounds, assists, and of course is a team player. Hill is put in a position similar to the one he came into the U of A as a freshman; surrounded by doubt. Will he prove them wrong again?
Gran Jerrett, was a surprise for many people to leave school early and opt to go pro, but it might have been his best choice at the time. Many scouts were intrigued by his shooting range and touch, but what some didn’t realize was his athletic abilities. He recorded a 34″ vertical jump, not bad for a 6′-10″ power forward with a 7′-2″ wingspan. Jerrett was originally drafter by the Portland Trailblazers and I thought to myself, “wow this is a great fit for him, he will be able to learn from one of the best power forwards in the game, and his game is very similar”. Next thing I know he’s shipped off to the Thunder for cash. The Thunder grabbed Jerrett as a project and a low risk, high reward payoff if everything falls into place. Jerrett is known to be a great stretch four who can shoot lights out, but needs muscle to bang down low with the big boys. Grant as tremendous upside and can only get better, so where he takes his body and game will be yet to be seen. He can find himself being a very good role player with a potential to become a great stretch four, only time can tell.