Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 11/7/12
TUCSON, Ariz. The second-to-last act Solomon Hill made in McKale Center was his only mistake. It was a missed free throw. Other than that, well, he was all but perfect. And although Arizona is still a work in-progress with a long five months ahead, it did look pretty good in its 98-60 win against Chico State in its final exhibition game before Sunday's season-opener against Charleston Southern. Hill, Arizona's senior beacon, was one missed free throw away from having a near flawless night, going 2 for 2 from the floor and 13 for 14 from the free throw line. As he pointed out he was a little "Derrick Williams-like" comparing his statistics to former UA star Williams, who often gathered his points from the line with some help from the floor. "I hope he can continue with that," Arizona coach Sean Miller said, with a smile. Hill will never be mistaken for Williams, UA's rock and All-American two years ago, but Hill will be almost as important. "I'm just letting it come to me and being more relaxed," said Hill, who finished with 18 points and added two assists, a steal and had just one turnover. "I'm slowly getting to a place where we want to be. We're playing faster and getting guys involved." Hill was a major reason why. And he was clearly not the same Hill he was in Arizona's last exhibition game where he looked un-Hill-like despite having 15 points and four assists. The problem was his four turnovers. On Tuesday night, he had just one. "I was forcing the issue in the beginning," Hill said of the first scrimmage (108-67 win against Humboldt State). "I missed some wide open jump shots. But it was good for me to rebound (on Tuesday). I refocused and got to work." Arizona's three seniors, in fact, were the work horses. Senior guard Mark Lyons led the way with 20 points and Kevin Parrom had 12 points, six rebounds and three assists. But it was Hill who was the clear star, showing his ability to get to the basket and get fouled and get to the line. Miller said Hill is still getting used to having a couple of big (and tall) teammates alongside. Throughout his career, he was either a smaller player playing a big position or a player who didn't have much size alongside him. "Part of what he's learning how to do is when to go and when not to," Miller said. "He's letting the game come to him and if you watched him he really let the game come to him. He made people better. The fact that he had 14 free throws was indicative that when he did attack he did it at the right time. He looked like a really good player tonight." And one of the better free throw shooters in the building. Well, maybe not. When asked who was the better free throw shooter between Hill and him, Miller quipped: "I'm a much better free throw shooter." No argument in that Miller shot 88.5 percent from the line for his college career. Solomon enters the season with a career percentage of 73.7. But if the two exhibition games are any indication, Hill has worked to improve at the line. He went 19 for 21 from the line. "If I get fouled,'' Hill said, "they are sending one of the best free throw shooters to the line. By all means foul me." Free points for a player who has made it his work to get better at what he does. "Solomon has grown in almost every facet," Miller said. "He's become a better defensive player. He's in better condition. He's a much better shooter." Miller quickly pointed out that Hill hit just four 3-pointers in his freshman year. Last year, he hit 37 for 39 percent. There's plenty of potential for bigger and better numbers. "There were times last year in December when teams dared him to shoot," Miller said. "In January and February he shot a higher percentage. And like our other players he's worked very hard. He can really shoot the basketball right now. He's just improved." Miller called Hill, a member of Miller's first recruiting class, a "great story" because of how far he's come and "how he's stayed with it." Now is his time to prove it. "Nobody deserves to have a great senior than him," Miller said. Nights like Tuesday may help him accomplish it.
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