Georgia basketball newcomer Justin Hill’s leadership crucial with ‘day-to-day’ Terry Roberts
ATHENS – Georgia basketball needs usual reserve point guard Justin Hill ready to lead it against Ole Miss should leading scorer Terry Roberts remain unavailable.
Hill, who exploded for a season-high 20 points in relief of Roberts on Saturday, could be starting again as the concussed star point guard’s playing status is listed as day-to-day.
Hill might need to string together back-to-back explosive performances, something he is yet to do since the start of SEC play, when the Bulldogs (14-8, 4-6 SEC) host the Rebels (9-14, 1-9) at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
The Longwood transfer, who averages just over 20 minutes per game, has certainly shown dominance against conference opponents. It just has not been consistent, at least in the scoring column.
Hill showed he is certainly capable of running Georgia’s offense when given the opportunity, as his 20-point performance came with 36 minutes of playing time, another season-high.
Indeed, Roberts may start over Hill, but both point guards have established themselves as vocal leaders among the team.
“To me, he’s always been like that,” guard Jabri Abdur-Rahim said of Hill. “He’s a leader to me. Him and Terry are the two heads of the snake, and we lean on them a lot.”
Georgia coach Mike White sees Hill’s leadership development as a more recent trend, but certainly agrees with its direction.
“He took advantage the other day of leading vocally, and in the last couple of days, he’s actually made a big jump,” White said. “He’s barking at guys and getting guys in the right spots.
“Really, in the last 72 hours, he’s made as big of a jump with his directing of traffic and vocal leading as he has since he’s been here.”
Electric performances from Hill and Kario Oquendo seem paramount to UGA’s offensive success if the two teams’ last matchup reveals anything.
Oquendo, the team’s second-leading scorer, scored 15 points when the Bulldogs beat the Rebels 62-58 over three weeks ago in Oxford, Mississippi. In fact, Georgia’s guards scored 43 of the team’s 62 points in the win.
Hill led UGA’s bench players with 8 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, and a steal.
The home game against Ole Miss almost feels like a rest day compared to Georgia’s recent and upcoming schedule.
Three of UGA’s last four games have ended in road losses against three of the top four teams in the SEC (No. 6 Tennessee, Auburn and Texas A&M). The Bulldogs will host Kentucky on Saturday before playing No. 3 Alabama in Tuscaloosa a week later.
Such is life when competing in the SEC, but missing a leader like Roberts in the box score and on the floor makes those future games appear much more daunting.
Hill, who led Longwood in scoring en route to its first ever NCAA Tournament bid last year, knows the model of a postseason team. These Bulldogs might not be crazy enough for March Madness yet, but Hill’s leadership is a proven factor in moving a program forward.
“I see how this team can be, and I’ve seen our potential,” he said. “When we play hard and we do what we need to do, we’re a really good team. I want us to just change our whole mentality and have everybody speak up.”
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