Hill eyes eventual D-I spot

Former Clovis High standout Bryce Hill has started the last 13 games for Jacksonville (Texas) College.

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

Before ending with “God bless,” Bryce Hill’s voice mail requests a message that’s “brief, but substantial.”

It’s kind of what the 2008 Clovis High graduate is hoping for at his current basketball stop.

Since leaving Clovis as its third all-time leading scorer, the boisterous Hill took the low-key approach by signing with Jacksonville College, a junior college in Jacksonville, Texas.

Now, while he auditions to play Division I basketball in two seasons, his college experience comes in a gym less than a third the size of Rock Staubus Gymnasium, his high school stomping grounds.

“Compared to The Rock holding 1,800, ours probably holds about 500 or 400,” Hill said. “The noise level feels the same. (There’s) just not as much rivalry.”

But some things are still the same, Hill insists. He still plays in a running system, he still leads his team in 3-point attempts (31-of-100) and he still provides a spark on the court.

“He’s very unselfish. He plays really hard on both ends of the floor,” said Jaguars coach Greg Young, an assistant at Eastern New Mexico University from 1991-94. “He brings intangibles that are really important.”

The numbers aren’t coming quite as easy for Hill at college, a year after he scored 20 a night and obliterated Clovis 3-pointer records — his 223 career treys are 78 more than previous record-holder, Cody Thornsbury.

At Jacksonville he is averaging 8.5 points and three rebounds a game — a product of playing in a league where everybody’s as good as, or better than, he is.

“It’s faster, they’re bigger, stronger,” Hill said. “These are guys who should play D-I that just didn’t make the grade. The competition’s amazing.”

The extra ingredient becomes desire, Hill said.

“When it comes to stuff like that, it’s who wants it,” Hill said. “Everybody can do the same thing.”

But he’s made his mark, having started the last 13 games for a Jaguars squad ranked 25th in the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Division I poll.

Young said he doesn’t talk about when he expected Hill would start, and said it’s best left at, “The best players play.”

Jacksonville is 17-4, including 9-1 to lead the south zone of Region XIV. The Jaguars are balanced, with three players averaging double figures, while Hill is among three others averaging at least eight points.

“We can play 40 minutes on the defensive and offensive end,” Hill said. “We don’t back down until the clock runs out. If you can’t handle the pressure, you’re going to get beat.”

Hill said he hopes to get offers from Division I teams in a year from now. For now, he’s just getting used to another untold aspect of college life.

“The food,” Hill said. “You can’t just call mom and tell her to pick you up to have something to eat.”