Hill to play college hoops at Morningside

SH 60-14 over last three seasons with guard on the floor

South Hamilton guard Conner Hill drives into the lane during a game last season. Hill, who will be a senior this fall, announced on Friday he will play college basketball at Morningside in Sioux City. DFJ file photo/Tracy Runneberg

JEWELL — When Conner Hill sat down and thought about it, he knew there really was no decision to make.

When it’s right, it’s right.

The South Hamilton senior-to-be announced via Twitter Friday afternoon that he has committed to the men’s basketball program at Morningside College in Sioux City. He’s the second member of the 2019 class to commit to the Mustangs in the past week; Algona Garrigan’s TJ Schnurr announced his decision a few days earlier.

Morningside was the first school to offer Hill a scholarship. Grand View also made an offer, while Briar Cliff, Simpson and Central were in the mix as well, but Hill always felt most comfortable with Morningside.

“I wanted to go where I was wanted and I wanted to go somewhere where I could be successful, and that’s Morningside,” he said. “I had a really good visit when I went up there after the spring. Everything about the campus, the coaches, the players, it just made sense to me that it was the right fit.

Conner Hill puts up a shot during a Class 2A state quarterfinal against Aplington-Parkersburg in March. DFJ file photo/Troy Banning

“After the Morningside visit, I had it in my head that I knew it was the place to go.”

Morningside is a NAIA program in the Great Plains Athletic Conference. The Mustangs have won five GPAC titles, including this past season when they put together a 26-6 overall record.

Mustangs’ head coach Jim Sykes implements a similar style to what Hill has grown comfortable with under his dad, South Hamilton head coach Nathan Hill, and both said that played a pivotal role in committing.

“They’ve got a really good basketball program up there and he thought it was a good fit,” Nathan Hill said of his youngest son. “Their style of play is a lot like we play at South Hamilton with a lot of ball movement and a lot of unselfishness.”

Morningside recruited Hill as a point guard, a position he has played on the AAU circuit for years. He’s primarily been a shooting guard for South Hamilton, but he will make the permanent transition to the point for his senior season.

DFJ file photo/Troy Banning

“For me it’s the most natural position feel wise,” Conner Hill said. “But I’m not too picky, I can play anywhere.”

A three-year varsity contributor and starter since the middle of his freshman season, Hill owns a career scoring average of 10.9 points per game. With 804 career points and barring injury, he will likely become just the eighth Hawk to reach 1,000 career points over the winter. He could join his uncle Peter Hill (1,518 points) and older brother Collin Hill (1,473 points), who rank second and third all-time.

Conner Hill already ranks sixth all-time in school history in assists (243) and steals (117). He’s made 144 3-point baskets.

A season ago, Hill averaged 13.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game on his way to a first-team all-Heart of Iowa Conference accolade. And it wasn’t just his offense that drew attention. On a nightly basis, Hill drew the toughest defensive assignment on the perimeter.

He helped the Hawks put together a 24-1 record in 2017-18, as they made their second straight trip to the Class 2A state tournament. South Hamilton is 60-14 with Conner Hill in uniform.

The biggest obstacle facing the Hill family in the upcoming years will be its travel schedule. Collin Hill is a redshirt freshman member of the Truman State University basketball team in Kirksville, Missouri. Kirksville and Sioux City are separated by 333 miles.

“I’m not ready to get my pilot’s license yet, but we’ll figure that out,” Nathan Hill joked. “That probably means we’ll have to head different directions at times, but it’s a good problem to have.”

With the commitment out of the way, Conner Hill says he can now put all of his focus on his senior season. With fellow starters Logan Peters and Cole Berg also returning, as well as top reserves Cade Balvanz and Quinton Grove, South Hamilton should once again be one of the premier 2A teams in the state.

“It just feels good to get this off my chest,” Conner Hill said. “It’s one less thing to worry about.”