The July tournaments and live periods are over, which means that any 2015 recruit has likely played his last AAU game. But for younger players like Jalen Hill, their high school career is just taking off. Hill, a Class of 2017 power forward, burst onto the scene in July, and SMU Head Coach Larry Brown witnessed it.
Brown was at the Adidas Super 64 tournament in Las Vegas in late July, and was intrigued by Hill, who is a teammate of SMU commit Sedrick Barefield at Corona (Calif.) Centennial High School and with the AAU Compton Magic. Hill, who is 6-foot-8 and 190 pounds, impressed Brown enough to earn an offer from SMU, his first.
“I couldn’t believe it at first,” Hill said. “I was questioning what happened, if it was real. It’s a free scholarship, it’s what I’ve been dreaming about since I was young.”
Hill said he did not know that Brown was watching him, but he said that his AAU coach, Etop Udo-Ema, and his dad both talked to SMU coaches. An SMU assistant then called Hill and told him he had the offer.
SMU had not previously talked with Hill, but he has heard a lot about the program through Barefield, whom Hill said praised Brown. Hill is not ready to anoint SMU a favorite or give it a boost because of Barefield, but he said he likes everything he has heard about it.
“I used to live in Texas, so I know the area,” said Hill. “[Coach Brown] is a really good coach. I would like to get to know them a lot because I’ve heard the coaching staff is really good.”
Hill played sparingly for Centennial during his freshman year because he was behind a lot of upperclassmen, but the AAU season was his coming-out party. In the Adidas tournament, he said he was injured, but still performed well.
“I did pretty well the whole AAU season,” Hill said. “In the Adidas 64, I pulled a hamstring or something, so the first game I didn’t contribute much. But I fought through it the rest of the tournament because I knew there would be a lot of coaches watching me.”
But Hill says he is healthy now and wants to continue improve on his inside game for his upcoming high school season.
“I don’t know if I’ll be much of a post player, but I’m still going to work on the inside as much as I can because that’s what I’m going to be doing because of our lineup at my high school,” Hill said. “My specialties are the short corner and the high post and turning and facing out, like one quick move.”
Hill said that he is not sure which position he would play at the college level, but he said that he still is growing and wants to add weight and so he can be a more versatile player.
“If I gain a couple inches and lift weights, I’m pretty sure I’ll be a good power forward [in college],” he said. “I’m still going to work on my ball-handling skills and my shooting too.”