By Joe Henricksen
Johnny Hill, Glenbard East's up-and-coming senior star who showed promise and potential as a sophomore and blossomed this past season as a junior, ended his recruitment by committing to Illinois State and head coach Tim Jankovich.
Illinois State and assistant coach Paris Parham, who was the lead recruiter, was in on the fast-rising Hill early as the Redbirds were the first of several schools to offer the up-and-coming 6-3 guard this past winter. Hill's recruitment, which included early interest from DePaul under the previous coaching staff, Northern Illinois, Southern Illinois, Loyola, Murray State, Bradley, Tennessee State and Wisconsin-Green Bay, was beginning to pick up steam as the July evaluation period approached.
The success Illinois State has had in recent years with three NIT appearances and an average of nearly 24 wins a year in those three seasons was attractive to Hill, along with the style of play Jankovich's Redbirds play and the relationship he built with the coaching staff.
"The coaching staff was so genuine and I just appreciated how they were during the recruiting process," says Hill, who averaged 18 points, 6 rebounds and 3.5 steals a game as a junior. "They were very supportive in showing me the basketball side and academic side of things. And I liked how they told me how I could get better, pointed out what I needed to do as a player to improve. I like the style of play, the distance from home and the success they've had as a program."
The long and active Hill had a terrific junior year in helping lead Glenbard East to a 27-2 record and a trip to the sectional championship game, where it fell to Benet Academy. Hill has that glide up and down the floor in transition, finishing on the break or spotting up on the three-point line as a much-improved catch-and-shoot perimeter shooter. He's at his best just making plays, spotting up from three but also with a pull-up mid-range game and using his length and athleticism to get to the basket and create havoc on the defensive end. Physically, Hill needs to progress as he remains thin and undeveloped, which a college strength and conditioning program should take care of.
Although it's a cliché, Hill's best basketball is clearly ahead of him. What makes Hill so intriguing is the upside he possesses as a prospect as he's just beginning to come into his own as a basketball player. Due to his experience level as a player and physical make-up, Hill was a late-developing prospect who continues to open eyes the more he plays. He has been solid this spring playing with the Rising Stars on the AAU circuit and in leading his high school team to titles at both the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout, where he was named the event's MVP, and the Loyola Rambler Shootout.