TORONTO,ON–Some things in life are just meant to be, and Alex Hill sporting the navy blue of the University of Toronto men’s basketball team seems to fit within that category.
It’s a family thing. The third-year Physical Education & Health major is the son of a former OUA All-Star basketball player (his father, Sam) and former Canadian national triple-jump champion (his mother, Pam Prophet) for the Varsity Blues. Both parents serve as significant influences for Hill, with Sam attending most of his high school games at Eastern Commerce and Pam pushing him academically and driving his passion for track (“my second love, after basketball”).
It’s a familiarity thing. Primarily through Sam, Alex spent a good chunk of his formative years on campus going to U of T alumni events and hanging around the team. He was never too far from the school, having been born and raised in Toronto.
It’s a skill thing. A dead-eye shooter coming out of high school, Hill was on the radar screen for plenty of CIS schools, but it was a widely known fact that he only had eyes for the Blues when it came to Canadian schools.
But just because certain things in life are meant to be doesn’t mean they happen automatically. Hill didn’t head straight for U of T out of high school, deciding instead that the allure off an offer to play for the Cornell Big Red and attend an Ivy League school was too good to pass up.
“I sat down with my parents when it came time to decide [on where to go] and we made a pro’s and con’s chart,” recalls Hill. “They were both really involved but, at the same time, wanted to leave the decision up to me.”
Hill refers to his time at Cornell as being “everything that I could have hoped for academically and socially”, but acknowledges that it wasn’t easy watching his team clinch its second consecutive Ivy League title and earn a national championship berth while primarily glued to the bench.
“I went to Cornell to play basketball and, even though I loved it there, I wasn’t happy with my playing time and sitting on the bench wasn’t enough for me,” admits Hill.
During the 2008-09 season, the 6’5″ swingman got into just 12 of 31 regular season games for the Big Red (scoring 32 points over just 46 minutes played all season) and played merely one minute of garbage time in Cornell’s first round exit to Missouri in the March Madness tournament.
Even though Hill took plenty from his first year at Cornell, basketball was his passion, a passion he was still determined to pursue. While the decision to leave the Ithaca, N.Y. school was difficult, the choice of where to go next was an easy one.
“If I was going to stay in Canada rather than go to the States, University of Toronto was definitely going to be the school,” says Hill.
And it has been the school for the past two seasons (he had to sit out the 2009-10 campaign due to transfer rules). He finally took to the court sporting navy blue last season and thrived, leading the Varsity Blues with 15.0 points per game while shooting 49.1% from the field and ranking second on the club with 22 steals. From being a shooter throughout high school, Hill had developed into an all-around scorer, looking to get to the rim in addition to finding open looks from the perimeter.
Two games into the 2011-12 season has produced more of the same, with Hill upping his scoring to 18.0 points a game while averaging 30.0 minutes (no playing time concerns here) and growing into more of a leader on and off the floor.
When you ask Hill to look back on his basketball journey, he laughs but is quick to assert that he has “no regrets with any of it” and is happy where he is. Maybe, after all, it was just meant to be.