COLLIN’S THE MAN

First-team all-state again, Hill makes it easy to root for him

South Hamilton senior  Collin Hill celebrates his team’s Class 2A substate victory over East Marshall in Nevada earlier this month. Hill has been named to the Class 2A all-state first team by the Iowa Newspaper Association for the second time in as many years. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

For what feels like the 14-millionth time in the last four years, I’m writing about South Hamilton senior Collin Hill. Which begs the question: just what in the heck is there left to say?

That’s a really good question, if I do say so myself. Hill’s basketball prowess has been told and retold ad nauseam. He’s good, great, a South Hamilton legend, to wrap it up in one sentence. So good that today he caps his brilliant prep career with a second straight Iowa Newspaper Association Class 2A first-team all-state honor.

In my nearly 18 years at the Daily Freeman-Journal, Hill is just the second baller to be a back-to-back first-team all-state selection, joining Webster City all-time leading scorer and former UNI Panther Jared Josten. Both put their teams on their backs in their own ways and both received enough press clippings from yours truly to wallpaper a house.

They both deserved all of the praise, too.

Hill made the top squad as a forward, a position that helped him score 1,473 points, the third-most in school history, in his three-year career that stalled briefly when he broke his leg and missed the entire 2014-15 season. He poured in 21.9 points a game this winter and led the Hawks to a spot in the 2A state tournament field for the second time.

Collin Hill (24) glides to the basket for an uncontested layup against Southeast Valley in a Class 2A district final at Gilbert High School. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

He made quite an impression, too. How big? Let’s put it this way, his addition to the all-state team was as no-brainer as it got.

“To end my career with a first-team all-state (honor), it just means a lot,” Hill said as he vacationed in sunny Florida while the rest of us back in Iowa welcomed winter back into our lives (no, I’m not bitter at all). “A lot of work has been put into this, so to end it this way is definitely special.”

His name has now spread across the South Hamilton basketball record book like a rash on a baby’s butt. He’s second all-time in steals (161) and third in rebounds (603). He also piled up 168 assists and 96 blocks during his career. He shot 54.7 percent from the field. And, most importantly, the teams he led won better than three out of every four games.

He failed to score in double figures just three times in 74 games. He helped guide South Hamilton to a pair of Heart of Iowa Conference titles. And the bullet-point list of achievements goes on and on and on …

But, like I said, if you’ve followed his career then you already know all of this. So, how about we find out a few things we don’t know about Hill.

Can he sing?

“No, not at all,” Hill said. “Sometimes I try, but people just tell me I’m awful.”

We know he can play football — he was the Hawks’ starting quarterback as a sophomore prior to the leg injury late in the regular season — but what sport would embarrass him?

“I’m terrible at golf,” he said. “Down here in Florida we always try to go golfing and I’m just awful. You know (the ball) is going to go into the other fairway when I’m playing.”

How about pre-game superstitious rituals, does he have any of those?

“No, not really,” he said. “I’m usually off by myself doing my own thing. I just like to focus on the task at hand.”

I’ve watched Hill play in too many basketball games to count. I’ve studied his movements on the court, his interactions with teammates in the huddles and I’ve asked him enough questions that his responses could fill more than a few notebooks.

Having done all of that, here’s what I can tell you about Collin Hill the person: He’s as easy to like as any prep athlete I’ve ever come across.

Personable. Upbeat. Mature. Intelligent. Insightful. All of those words describe the Collin Hill that I’ve come to know. In all of our interactions, he never once referred to himself in the third person — trust me, that’s a big deal — nor did he ever try to take the credit for South Hamilton’s successes. The wins were the team’s wins.

And he’s only scratched the surface.

On Wednesday, Hill says he’ll be back in the gym to work on his game. He’s got a scholarship to Truman State University for the fall and he’s determined to prove to the Bulldogs’ coaching staff that it made the right decision when it invested in his future.

“There’s always that next chapter,” he said. “I’ll always remember my time here, but at the same time you’ve got to look forward. So I’ll be back in the gym trying to work on my shot because I know I need to.”

That quirky jumper has served him well up to this point, as have his athletic 6-foot-6 frame and high basketball IQ.

So is this the last chapter? Maybe. And maybe not.

Yes, I may have more to write in the future and I’ll enjoy it, too. Why? Because of Collin Hill the person, not necessarily Collin Hill the basketball player.

CLASS 2A

First Team

Pos Player School Ht Gr

F Collin Hill South Hamilton 6-6 Sr

F Matt Dentlinger Carroll Kuemper 6-7 Sr

F Cooper Kabela West Branch 6-4 Sr

G Ethan Wyant Jesup 6-0 Sr

G Levi Jungling Pella Christian 5-11 Sr

G Ben Gesink Western Christian 6-3 Sr

UT Jesse Jansma Western Christian 6-3 Sr

UT Jay Small Hinton 6-3 Sr

Second Team

Pos Player School Ht Gr

F Austin Roetman Pocahontas Area 6-7 Sr

F Dylan Hundley Camanche 6-4 Sr

F Isaiah Humphrey Underwood 6-2 Sr

G Ben Juhl Des Moines Christian 6-1 Sr

G Dakota Soenksen Camanche 6-3 Sr

G Trenton Massner Wapello 6-1 Sr

UT Ben Latusek Dike-New Hartford 6-4 Sr

UT Riley LeGrand Dyersville Beckman 6-3 Sr

Third Team

Pos Player School Ht Gr

F Zane Johnson East Marshall 6-4 Jr

F David Kacmarynski Pella Christian 6-3 Sr

F James Betz Garner-Hayfield/Ventura 6-7 So

G Drew Olson Osage 6-2 Jr

G R.J. Harris AHSTW Avoca 6-2 Jr

G Gannon O’Brien Cascade 6-0 Jr

UT Marco Balderas South Hamilton 5-7 Jr

UT Isaac Heyer West Lyon 6-3 Sr

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