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January 16, 2013
For five-star point guard Kasey Hill, the issue of where he is going to attend college was decided long ago.
Holding offers from programs from across the nation, including the likes of Georgia Tech, Florida State, Kansas, Kansas State, USF, North Carolina State, Arizona, Louisville and the eventual national champion Kentucky, Hill committed to Billy Donovan's Florida program on New Year's Eve 2011.
Hill, a 6-foot-1 elite point guard who plays for Montverde Academy is ranked No. 9 in the Class of 2013 and the epitome of a "team first" player. If you ask him how many points and assists he's averaging, he couldn't tell you (12.9 ppg and 5.5 apg). Ask him what his vertical is, and couldn't tell you that either. Individual stats aren't paramount to him. What he can tell you is that Montverde Academy is undefeated and that he is focused on doing what he can to help the Eagles win a national championship.
"I'm definitely shooting the ball a lot better than I did last year," Hill said. "And my turnovers, I've cut them down a lot and I'm playing better defense."
Since Coach Kevin Boyle arrived at the Montverde campus the Eagles have often run a three guard offense with Hill playing off the ball. Something he feels has helped his game
"Playing off the ball allows me to score in transition," Hill beamed. "I can get the ball and try to make a play in transition, which I think is the strongest part of my game."
This past Saturday Hill was a spectator as Montverde Academy defeated Boone HS 61-51 in the 2nd annual Showdown In O-Town held at Orlando Christian Prep.
The reason? A minor hamstring 'tweak'.
"I practiced today (Monday) and it felt a lot better," he said. "Coach (Boyle) decided to rest me; he didn't want to risk anything. He felt we could win that game without me, he wanted me to be ready for the next four games we have coming up."
Among those games is a January 21st game in Massachusetts against Findlay Prep (NV), currently ranked No. 1 in the nation by USA Today.
Though he is still five months from starting school at Florida, Hill has already provided his first assist to the program and is working on his second and third. He took his official visit the weekend of October 6th with good friends Chris Walker and Julius Randle, both are highly regarded 6-foot-9 power forwards. Hill and Walker, ranked No. 8 in the Rivals Top150 for the 2013 class, have grown close playing together on the AAU circuit, and Hill helped recruit him to UF while on the travel circuit this past year.
"Of course I did, I was with him every day of the summer," Hill said. "I was talking to him about it as much as I could but I didn't want to aggravate him about it. Chris is a real cool guy I love playing with him. The thing I love about him the most is that he just plays so hard."
Hill is even closer to Randle, ranked No. 2 in the Rivals Top150 for the 2013 class, and he's hopeful they will be playing together in Gainesville.
"I talk to Julius as much as I can, we're both busy playing basketball and stuff, we're great friends. I just hope we get him; I'd really like to play with him. He's one of my best friends in my class. I've known him since the sixth grade."
Hill is also tight with class of 2014 Lake Highland Prep point guard recruit Joel Berry II.
"He's like my brother," Hill said. "He's my best friend."
Hill's thoughts on Berry joining him at UF?
"I would LOVE that," Hill exclaimed. "It would be like the old days if we played together."
Hill and Berry played together from the time they were "ten or eleven until I was about 15," he said. The two ran with Team Orlando and Breakdown winning two national championships and two runner-up trophies.
Ironically, about 30 minutes prior to the interview with Hill, Joel Berry's father called to say that Billy Donovan visited Berry at his school and played a video that showed the Gators using multiple point guards in the game at the same time. Illustrating the point that there's room at the inn for both premiere point guards.
When Hill committed to UF some fans worried that the 18 months between his verbal commitment and his arrival on campus would give other programs the time they needed to persuade him to re-open his recruitment and head elsewhere. But for Hill there was never any doubt in his mind that he made the right decision committing to Florida.
"It's just one of those things that you just know," he said. "Who you trust and who you feel really believes in you. It was just one of those things that you just know."