- The Washington Times - Friday, June 19, 2009

The Washington Wizards on Thursday held their final predraft evaluation for a lottery-projected player, putting power forward Jordan Hill through a workout at Verizon Center.

Wizards officials got a close look at one of the more intriguing yet puzzling prospects they could select with the fifth pick. The Arizona product is generally regarded as the third-best big man in the field behind Blake Griffin and Hasheem Thabeet. But the 6-foot-10, 235-pounder, who averaged 18.3 points and 11.0 rebounds as a junior last season, has been projected to go as high as fourth or drop out of the top 10 altogether.

Hill is an athletic big man brimming with potential who likely has significant strides to make considering he has played organized basketball only five years. Hill grew up in Atlanta playing baseball, then switched to basketball as a freshman in high school. His father held him out of basketball his 11th-grade year because his grades were poor. He played his senior year at the Patterson School in North Carolina before landing a scholarship offer from Arizona.

“I came from nothing, and now I’m up there on the radar. It’s a surprise, but I know I can do it. I have heart and the passion to play basketball,” Hill said. “When I first came into Arizona, I was very, very raw. I still am raw, still got room to grow, but I can tell every time I step on the court, I get better and better.”

As an athletic big man and strong rebounder with a decent jump shot and quick feet, Hill has drawn comparisons to Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh and Chris Wilcox. He is aware of the varied opinions of where he’ll wind up in the draft, but he said he isn’t concerned.

“Those are people who have their own opinion and don’t really know nothing about basketball. That’s how I feel,” said Hill, who earlier this week worked out for Golden State and New York and has Milwaukee and Memphis up next. “I don’t let that get in my head. It’s not their call. It’s the NBA teams’ call.”

Hill, who calls his jump hook - which he can make with either hand - his go-to move, has a degree of familiarity with the Wizards, having followed the career of Arizona product Gilbert Arenas. He said he spoke with Arenas before his workout and believes he could fit in with the Wizards, who have three power forwards - Antawn Jamison, Andray Blatche and Darius Songaila - on the roster.

But Hill said he has no preference as to where he lands - just as long as he is selected June 25.

“I’m just trying to be chosen,” he said with a smile. “It really doesn’t matter.”

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