June 18, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas - UT Arlington coach Scott Cross announced the signing of transfer guard Johnny Hill to the men's basketball program. Hill comes to UT Arlington from Illinois State and will be eligible to play for the Mavericks after sitting out the 2013-14 season.
"I'm extremely excited with the addition of Johnny," Cross said. "He's a combo guard that can do a little bit of everything. Obviously, playing in the Missouri Valley is one of the toughest conferences in the country. He put up solid numbers in that league for a sophomore. One of things I'm most impressed with is the way he takes care of the basketball.
"To have an opportunity to get a guy who's already played in the Missouri Valley is big for us. He fits the type of person we're looking for in our basketball program. He's a high character kid who has his priorities in line. He's mature beyond his years. He'll fit in great with what we do. He'll be ready to make an immediate impact after he sits out his transfer year."
Hill had spent time in Texas before, but didn't know much, if anything, about UT Arlington or the basketball program. Tim Jankovich, Hill's former coach at Illinois State and currently the associate head coach at SMU, told Hill he should consider UT Arlington if he was serious about getting back to Texas.
On the way to campus, Hill passed Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and Cowboys Stadium, and was immediately impressed. Then he saw and entered College Park Center, and was sold.
"I was blown away by the facilities," Hill said. "This was amazing. This is place I saw myself playing. UT Arlington has a practice gym just for the basketball team. We didn't have that at Illinois State. That's one of the big things I was looking for.
"Coach Cross was so warm and welcoming. I opened up to him. He told me goals he had for me and I told him goals I had, and it really went together. I really feel we can win. I can't wait to get with the guys and start playing."
Hill (6-foot-3, 180) earned on spot on the Missouri Valley most-improved team after averaging 7.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists last season for Illinois State. He started 26 games, including the last 25 games, for the 18-15 Redbirds. Hill shot 50.9 percent from the floor, 76.8 percent at the line and ranked ninth in the league with a 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Hill scored in double-figures 10 times and collected seven or more rebounds seven times this past year. He was the only Redbird to dish out 10 assists in a game (Western Michigan, Dec. 8), and set career highs with 24 points and nine rebounds against Drake (Jan. 12).
Hill was heavily recruited after being released from his scholarship, visiting schools such as St. Louis and Ball State before deciding on UT Arlington. Hill will have two years of eligibility remaining starting with the 2014-15 season.
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