The University of Arizona men’s basketball program added two more players to its storied NBA Draft legacy on Thursday night, as forwards Solomon Hill and Grant Jerrett both had their names called at the Barclays Center.
Hill became the 18th first-round draft pick in UA history when the Indiana Pacers selected him 23rd overall. Jerrett was taken with the 10th pick of the second round, 40th overall, by the Portland Trail Blazers.
The two selections give the Wildcats 36 NBA Draft choices since 1988, tied for the national lead over that time period. Arizona has had at least one player taken in 21 of the 25 seasons since 1988, including 16 first-round selections and 11 lottery picks. Four of Arizona’s last five draft picks have been selected in the first round.
UA has produced 65 NBA Draft picks since 1948, three of whom have come during the Sean Miller era.
Hill blossomed into a two-time All-Pac-12 first team selection while leading the Wildcats to a pair of Sweet 16 appearances during his time in Tucson. He was named first-team USBWA All-District IX as a senior after averaging 13.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, while shooting 39.0 percent from three-point range. He also claimed MVP honors at the 2012 Diamond Head Classic after leading UA to a thrilling win over San Diego State in the title game.
One of the most versatile players in UA history, Hill and Sean Elliott are the only Arizona players to compile 1,400 points, 750 rebounds, 300 assists, 100 three-pointers and 100 steals in their careers. Hill is also one of just seven UA players to amass 1,400 points and 700 rebounds in his career.
“Our congratulations go out to Solomon on being the 23rd selection in tonight’s draft by the Indiana Pacers,” Miller said. “Each year that Solomon played at the U of A, he improved his game. His desire to excel, competitive spirit, basketball intelligence and team-centered attitude are unmatched. Those characteristics will continue to serve him well on the professional level. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll have a successful career in the NBA.”
The Los Angeles native shares the program record for games played with Kyle Fogg (139), and also ranks third in UA history in games started (129), sixth in minutes played (4,030), 10th in rebounds (773) and 20th in scoring (1,430).
“It feels great to be a first-round draft pick, and it’s very humbling,” Hill said. “I’ve learned that you have to focus on being the best player you can be and do the little things to help your team win. That’s something Coach Miller helped me focus on over the last few seasons, and it’s great to see the hard work pay off.
“I love the position I’m in. The Pacers are a great team that competes for championships. I now get the chance to learn from their older guys, so I have a chance to carve out a role and do whatever I can to help the team be successful.”
Jerrett averaged 5.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in his lone season at Arizona, leading the team in blocks with an average of 1.0 per game. He shot 40.5 percent from the arc and 81.8 percent from the line in 34 games in a UA uniform.
“I want to congratulate Grant on being selected with the 40th pick by the Portland Trail Blazers tonight,” Miller said. “Although he was part of our program for a short period of time, he demonstrated a multitude of talents as a player. His high skill level, strong work ethic and unique size give him a very bright future in the NBA. I’m excited to watch him continue to develop, and I look forward to watching him reach his vast potential.”The Chino Hills, Calif., native is the 12th Arizona underclassman to enter the draft early and be selected since 1991, joining Brian Williams (1991), Mike Bibby (1998), Gilbert Arenas (2001), Richard Jefferson (2001), Michael Wright (2001), Andre Iguodala (2004), Marcus Williams (2007), Jerryd Bayless (2008), Jordan Hill (2009), Chase Budinger (2009) and Derrick Williams (2011).