With the tip-off to Arizona’s basketball season only 43 days away, we continue with our countdown showcasing standouts who wore No. 43 …
Jordan Hill holds a special place in Arizona basketball history because he was mostly an overlooked recruit out of high school who went on place his name all over the UA record book.
Ed Nymeyer, a legendary figure who was known by many coming out of Globe, was the Wildcats’ leading scorer in his three years with the varsity from 1956-58 and set what was then the UA career scoring record with 1,225 points. He is the last and only Arizona male athlete to letter in three different sports: Basketball, track and golf.
Hill averaged 18.1 points and 11 rebounds during his junior season (2008-09) for the Wildcats, who surprised many by reaching the Sweet 16 with a 21-13 record before losing to Louisville in the Midwest Region semifinals. Lute Olson retired before the season started which created uncertainty.
In three years at Arizona (he declared for the NBA after his junior season), Hill averaged 12.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots. He ranks sixth in school history in field-goal percentage at 57.8. His 375 rebounds in 2008-09 stands as a UA record. He pulled down 22 boards against Alabama-Birmingham that season.
By the end of the summer leading up to his senior prep season at The Patterson School in Lenoir, N.C., Hill had completely fallen out of most Top 100 lists and was hardly even considered a Top 150 player in the country. Olson and his assistants at the time — former players Josh Pastner and Miles Simon — never wavered in their interest in him.
“Jordan is really a high level athlete,” Pastner, now the head coach at Memphis, told Rivals.com before Hill signed with Arizona. “He can run like a gazelle; he really gets up and down the court. He has a great upside. Jordan has a lot of natural instinct on the court; he just needs to get stronger.”
Hill is entering his fifth season in the NBA with high hopes playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. Their coach, Mike D’Antoni, has confidence in Hill’s ability, despite Hill coming off hip surgery in January. D’Antoni reportedly wants Hill to extend his game to the perimeter.
Nymeyer, a member of the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame, went on to be a successful high school coach at Flowing Wells. He taught and coached there for 36 years.
He has the most victories among volleyball coaches in Southern Arizona. He is the only coach in Arizona history to win 300 games in two different sports (basketball and volleyball).
Nymeyer’s granddaughter, Lacey Nymeyer, was a world-class swimmer at Arizona who won the NCAA’s 2009 Woman of the Year award. She won a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Important No. 43 developments for the Wildcats:
— Olson was 43-26 against ranked opponents on neutral courts, signifying he was a successful coach in a big-time setting.
— Fred A. Enke’s team went 22-2 in 1942-43. The Wildcats outscored opponents by 19.8 points a game that season. They UA, which played its home games at Tucson High because the U.S. Navy utilized Bear Down Gym during World War II, won the Border Conference title.
— UA junior point guard T.J. McConnell, a transfer from Duquesne, shot 43.2 percent from three-point range two years ago with the Dukes. The Wildcats as a team shot 37.1 percent from three-point range last season.
Countdown to Tip-off Blogs:
— Fantastic Four who wore No. 44: Jersey special for Arizona Wildcats program
— Two of Arizona Wildcats’ best centers — Sean Rooks and Channing Frye — donned No. 45
— Arizona Wildcats great Ernie McCray reminisces about his record-setting 46-point performance
— Arizona Wildcats star recruit should not be compared to Blake Griffin
— Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller on fast track to Pac-12 success
— Things you may not know about Arizona Wildcats point guard T.J. McConnell
— Arizona Wildcats will benefit from presence of Joseph Blair in practice
— Arizona Wildcats preparing for what could be memorable 2013-14 season
WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports and TucsonCitizen.com.