There may not be another player in the Big South that has continually developed and honed their game the way Gardner-Webb's Jerome Hill has done over the past three years. The 6-5 junior from Adel, Ga., has developed from 6.1 points and 4.7 rebounds per game his freshman year to a double-double machine and Big South First Teamer this past season. Hill has now decided to move from his time in Boiling Springs to pursue a professional career.
Hill issued a statement to Mid-Major Madness on his move:
"I want to thank God because if it wasn't for him I wouldn't be in this situation. He gets all the glory.
"I'm going back to finish my last year of college to get my degree, or I'm going to do it online. My college coach [Tim Craft] agreed he will help me do that so I'll have my degree.
"I had a blast at Gardner-Webb University: I set records, I accomplished a lot of goals, and I wish my teammates the best of luck next year: Harold, Tyrel, David, Lhassane, Brandon, John, Adonis and Dylan. It's just my time to do what's best for me and my family. I know I can compete at any level so whatever curveball the pros throw at me I'll be ready for it that's for sure.
"I'm going to bust my behind this summer so I can be the best at my position since I'm moving to the 3. It's nothing new though. I handled the ball a lot in AAU and high school. I was really recruited as a 3, but things changed. I'm the type of player that will do anything to help my team win.
"I have the right people in my corner and I know for a fact that I'm going to be successful through God's will as long as I'm healthy and living. If I fail it's on me -- nobody else -- but I don't have the thought of failing any time soon. I'm a winner and I always will be.
"I thank God everyday for every opportunity and every blessing. Most people would die to be in my position. God is good, man.
"I also want to thank my coaching staff -- coach Paul, coach Luther, coach Beasley, and coach Craft -- for believing in me and helping me. I also want to thank the managers that took the time to work me out and rebound for me.
"It's just something I have to do and I'm going for it. Failing is not an option."
Hill finished his junior year averaging 18.9 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game. He's one of only 17 players in the country who currently averages a double-double and ranks 16th nationally in rebounding. If the 20-14 Bulldogs choose not to play in the CBI or CIT, he'll finish the season with 17 double-doubles, including a monster night against against Furman where he posted 28 points and 19 rebounds.
Gardner-Webb started the season strong and even knocked off ACC member Clemson. Tim Craft's offense then seemed to turn from using a more grind-it-out style playing to the strengths of Hill, Tyler Strange, and frontcourt mate Tyrell Nelson to a more run-and-gun approach. The style resulted in GWU dropping from a Big South contender the conference's seventh seed and visibility stemmed frustration from some team members.
Hill should be an attractive option for many pro scouts. He's always had a tenacious and solid back-to-the-basket game but recently has developed an ability to opt for a mid-range jumper or slash to the basket with some great on-the-ball moves. He most certainly would have been the frontrunner for Big South Player of the Year if he chose to come back.
This move will leave Gardner-Webb with just about 51 percent of their offensive production and 49 percent of their rebounding since seniors Tyler Strange and Jarvis Davis will be moving on. There is also the question of whether or not Tyrell Nelson will stick around to help Craft rebuild or if his emergence as one of the conference's best big men will have him seeking other opportunities as well.