His task each game is this: guarding the opposing team’s best offensive basketball player.
Nearly everybody wants to be the person to make the big shot: the dazzling layup, the deep 3-pointer, the fadeaway at the buzzer. Gritty defense has seem to have taken a back seat in an era where explosive offense has become commonplace.
But not according to at least one local high school basketball player.
Mainland’s Justin Hill, a talented scorer in his own right, doesn’t just make tough defense valuable — he makes it cool.
Hill, 17, was a two-year starter at Trinity Christian Academy in Deltona. He helped the Eagles reach the state championship game his sophomore year and led the Eagles back to the playoffs during what was supposed to be a rebuilding year as a junior.
In July, he decided to transfer from Trinity Christian to Mainland, where he had attended school as a freshman but hadn’t played basketball because of transportation issues.
He sacrificed a starting role for the Eagles to come off the bench for the Buccaneers this year.
“I wanted to prepare myself for the next level,” Hill said. “I had to get myself ready.”
Hill has proven invaluable for head coach Joe Giddens and company.
His task each game is this: guarding the opposing team’s best offensive player.
Hill relishes the opportunity.
“If a guy scores on me one time, that’s all he’s going to get,” he said. “He’s going to have to work to score again.”
Hills defensive energy is not lost on his new teammates, either.
“He’s one of the best defenders in Volusia County if you ask me,” said senior forward Johnny Brown, who’s been friends with Hill since their freshman year. “When you need a guy stopped, having a guy like him on the team makes it easier on the rest of us.”
It’s no secret that the Buccaneers will have to rely on Hill’s willingness to defend as a key component to reaching their ultimate goal: a state championship. He brings experience, high basketball IQ and relentless energy to a team already brimming with talent.
“You have to be a different kind of person to be a defensive guy,” Giddens said. “He’s an inspiration to the other guys on this team.”