It’s good to be Alexis Hill. In fact, in many ways, the year that we are living in has been – and continues to be – the year of Alexis Hill.
Recently, 2017 got even better for Hill when she verbally committed to further her athletic and academic careers at Division One Northeastern in Boston. About six months ago, Hill, then a junior, led the Lebanon Catholic girls’ basketball team to a PIAA Class A championship and was subsequently named the state’s Player of the Year in that classification.
For historical purposes in Lebanon County, not a bad trifecta for a student-athlete. And all that since transferring to Lebanon Catholic from Lebanon High about a year ago.
“Yeah, life is great,” said Hill. “The only thing that could make it better would be another state championship. I can’t top the Division One scholarship. That’s the best. But I hope we can win another state championship. It would be great to do that in my senior year. And there are so many other things we can accomplish, like a section and (Lancaster-Lebanon) League championship.”
“It’s pretty impressive,” said Lebanon Catholic head coach Patti Hower. “What worked out well for her is that she came on to a pretty good team, and they jelled. It wasn’t like teams could focus on Alexis. She had good players around her.”
While a number of Division One programs had shown interest in Hill throughout her high school career, apparently none were as diligent in their pursuit of her as Northeastern. A person who is very strong in her loyalties, a visit to the Boston campus may have sealed the deal for Hill.
“Northeastern has actually been after me since my freshman year,” said Hill. “I’d rather go with a program that’s been after me than one that has just shown interest in me recently. I always wanted to expand my horizons. But I actually didn’t start talking to them until this year. We didn’t keep in contact.
“I think Northeastern was pretty hot on her trail over the summer,” said Hower. “They like the way she plays. They talked about her being a good fit with their program. But she’s kind of a wild card. She visited Drexel and she visited Rider. But at Northeastern it looks like she’s going to be able to play early in her career. ”
In relative terms, Hill’s aspiration to play basketball at the next level – not to mention Division One – was a recent one. It had not been a lifelong pursuit. She did not want to play college basketball at a very young age.
In pacing the Beavers to the state title, the versatile Hill averaged 19.4 points per game, 12.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists an outing.
“Growing up, we watched my older brother playing basketball,” said Hill. “As I was growing up, I got better and people said, ‘The sky is the limit’, and they encouraged me and influenced me. Last year, in the eleventh grade, I realized I wanted to play basketball in college. In ninth and tenth grades, I was OK. I’m getting older and I’m getting better.
“I have no idea how Northeastern found out about me,” continued Hill. “But I’m pretty sure it was through AAU. We played in big showcases. In my freshman year, I was still new to the process. I had a lot of Division One coaches coming after me, but I didn’t pay them any mind. I wasn’t doing my part.”
“Alexis only came to us at the end of last August (2016),” said Hower. “They were involved in AAU at a high level. They went to a lot of high-level exposure tournaments. Since I’ve had her, one of her goals was to play college basketball. But it’s a tough process. Some schools only have three scholarships each year. You have to find the right fit for you, academically and athletically. What I’m proud of is the fact she worked so hard to achieve her goal.
“Even though coaches would come see you play, I think they first find out about you through AAU,” Hower continued. “Playing for us, she got her name out there. She played in states. She won a state championship. She was the player of the year. To get the most (college) exposure, it’s through AAU. But they make names for themselves in high school.”
Hill is the fourth Division One student-athlete to play basketball for Hower. Before Hill, former Beavers Mira Kline went to George Washington, Becky Hower went to Rider and Hailey Carangelo attended Saint Francis.
Not too shabby for little Lebanon Catholic.
“I’m certainly proud of the fact that we’ve had four players obtain Division One scholarships,” said Hower, who has referred to Hill as the most athletic player she’s ever coached. “It’s quite an honor to play at the Division One level. It’s competitive out there. For the size of our school, to come up with four Division One players, it’s very good.
“Northeastern is kind of getting a diamond in the rough,” Hower added. “She’s not polished yet. She’s only going to get better. She can play inside. She can face the basket. She can handle the ball.”
“I know it’s definitely going to be different,” said Hill. “Just me being on my own and away from home. I’m going to have to work on the time management, with basketball and school. I’ve been to Boston before. I know it’s going to be different, but it’s nothing I can’t handle.”
A tremendous driver of the basketball and the possessor of quick, explosive post moves, Hill prefers to face the basket more than she likes having her back to it. She is a good passer and a good ball handler, but not a guard. She is a good shooter, but not a great one.
“I’ve thought about that before,” said Hill of her place in the Division One game. “Every college I talked to I asked, ‘How do you see me as a player.’ Northeastern told me I’m going to fit in at a lot of places. I can be put anywhere and do anything I’m asked. I am working on my shooting. I need to improve on everything. There’s always room for improvement.”
“I see her as a ‘three’ (small forward), maybe a ‘four’ (power forward),” said Hower. “I don’t think at the next level she’s going to be a post player. She’s going to face the basket. But she’s a good passer. I think that’s her selling point, that she can play multiple positions.”
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