Photo courtesy of the Sydney Kings
The Sydney Kings of Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL) have begun their preseason schedule with strong performances from multiple players on their roster: former NBA players Marcus Thornton and Josh Childress and former UTSA basketball standout-forward, Jeromie Hill, to name a few.
For UTSA basketball fans, the name “Jeromie Hill” will be accompanied by memories of dominant performances from the native Aussie.
As a Roadrunner (2010-2015), Hill held career averages of 13.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and one steal while becoming one of only six players in UTSA history to amass 1,000 points and 500 rebounds for a career.
“I had a really good college career,” Hill started. “It wasn’t a matter of ‘if’ I’d play professionally, it was just a matter of ‘where’ and ‘for how much?’”
In his senior season (2015), Hill averaged 16 points and 8.1 rebounds, placing him on the radar of local (San Antonio) scouts.
“After the season (2015) I had some professional tryouts with the San Antonio Spurs,” Hill stated. “I had offers from a couple of teams in Australia. Originally I wanted to go to Europe and try that route, just because there’s more opportunity for money there.”
Hill will look to bring his rebounding prowess and scoring acumen to Sydney as the Kings look to secure the NBL Championship.
Sydney — Australia’s largest city — lies to the south of where Hill began his basketball journey: at the Australian Institute of Sport in Hill’s hometown of Cairns.
In Cairns, Hill averaged team highs in points (15.7) and rebounds (5.9) for the Cairns Marlins of the Queensland Basketball League (QBL) in 2010. Hill became the QBL Under-23 Player of the Year after his strong 2010 season.
The year prior (2009), Hill was a part of the U20 Australian team that won the FIBA Oceania gold medal.
“It was pretty seamless,” Hill said of his transition from Cairns to Sydney.
The league has a rule that bars teams from signing more than two foreign born players on to the final roster, making talented Australian players like Hill more valuable. Although the sample size is small, Hill has been a contributor in limited minutes for the Kings. The former Roadrunner is coming off of the best performance of his three-game career — eight points and three rebounds in just over 12 minutes of play.
“I have plenty of opportunity to score and do well, so I’m really excited about the (upcoming season),” Hill said. “On paper, we have one of the best teams in the league, so we have a chance to win (the NBL Championship).”
The departure of a player as talented as Hill would be detrimental to any team in the world. In the case of UTSA, the Roadrunners lost not only the talented Hill, but also former stars Keon Lewis and Kaj Bjorn-Sherman. With the loss of their talented trio, the Roadrunners also lose a large amount of their scoring and rebounding. To replace the production of Hill and his fellow UTSA graduates, this year’s team will have to work hard.
“They’re going to struggle,” Hill said regarding the 2015-2016 UTSA basketball team. “They’re going to be a small team, they’ll play a different style of basketball, but they’ll be competitive. If I could say anything to them, it would be, ‘just give it your best.’”
The Roadrunners will need to give more than their “best” this year if they hope to avoid a fourth consecutive season with a losing record. With the majority of the team being either freshmen or sophomores, they will have to overcome their youth in order to be competitive this year. UTSA will open play on Nov. 5 for an exhibition game at the Convocation Center.
As for Hill and the Sydney Kings, they will be opening their season against the Cairns Taipans on Oct. 10 in the Qantas Credit Union Arena.