Grant Hill is widely known as one of the best college basketball players of all time and for good reason. Despite an injury-hit NBA career, Hill became an NCAA basketball legend, back when the best players didn’t leave after 1 year.
What college did Grant Hill play for? Grant Hill played for Duke University for four years. Hill played for the Duke Blue Devils, coached by Mike Krzyzewski.
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Grant Hill was born in Dallas Texas, but his family soon moved to Reston in Virginia where he played for South Lakes high school. Coming through high school, Hill quickly became a superstar player and there were many different colleges who wanted him to attend for a few different reasons.
By the time he was playing in college, Hill was 6ft 8in, agile and able to score smoothly. He was exactly the sort of player any college coach would want and it is why he received offers from some of the best teams in the country. It was no surprise that he was getting these offers as Hill’s varsity coach Wendell Byrd wanted to start him when Hill was 13 years old, mainly because of his 6ft 4in height at the age.
Once he got his opportunity in high school, Hill quickly began receiving stacks and stacks of offers from some of the biggest schools in the country. It helped that Hill’s AAU team won the national championship when he was 13 and 15. It meant that Hill had plenty of opportunities for college.
When it came to deciding on a college team, both of Hill’s parents had their say. His mother wanted him to attend Georgetown which would have seen Hill play alongside future seven time NBA all star Alonzo Mourning in his first season in NCAA basketball. His father was not as keen on Georgetown.
Grant Hill’s father wanted his son to play for the North Carolina Tar Heels. It was hardly surprising that his father wanted him to go to the college, as former Tar Heel Michael Jordan was tearing up the NBA at the same time that Hill was making his college decision. It would have made for a scary team once Hill became a freshman as he would’ve played alongside future NBA champion Rasheed Wallace and two time all star Jerry Stackhouse.
Surprisingly, Hill decided to ignore both of his parents’ wishes, instead committing to Duke University to play under Mike Krzyzewski. While this may have seemed like a huge draw, Duke were nowhere near the team they are today when Hill joined in 1990. The Blue Devils had made it to the NCAA Tournament final four times, but lost all four including the 1990 final to UNLV in a 30 point whitewash.
With Hill joining the team, there was hope that his freshman year could finally bring the title to Duke. It was good for Hill as he did not have to jump in and immediately be the leading player for Duke. The team was being led by junior, Christian Laettner, and sophomore, Bobby Hurley.
Hill played a smaller role in that first season, averaging 11.2 points per game as Christian Laettner led Duke to the NCAA final for the second year in a row. The team tore through the Midwest Regional, even besting National Player of the Year Larry Johnson and upsetting the eight point favourite UNLV in the semi-finals.
After a 72-65 win in the final, Duke won their first NCAA tournament title with a win over UNC. Laettner was named NCAA Basketball Most Outstanding Player as Hill won his first title in college. With pretty much a full returning squad, I looked likely that Duke could repeat this title, with Hill’s production stepping up.
Grant Hill stepped up to score 14 points per game as he started to become more important in the team, even though Hill only started 24 of the 33 games that he featured in. The start to the season was pretty similar to the previous one, with Duke breezing through the first three rounds of the NCAA tournament.
In the East Regional final, Duke won one of the greatest games in college basketball history when Christian Laettner hit a turnaround buzzer-beater which was scored from an inbounds pass from Grant Hill, later nicknamed “The Shot”. This moment led to Hill winning another NCAA tournament when Duke defeated Michigan’s Fab Five 71-51.
With Laettner being drafted third overall in 1992, Hill became the lead of the Duke team for the next two seasons, alongside Bobby Hurley and Thomas Hill. Without the team’s superstar leader, Duke took a step back in 1993 as they shockingly lost in the second round of the tournament to California.
Duke returned to the NCAA final in 1994 as Hill became ACC Player of the Year as well as a consensus first team All-American. Hill averaged 17.4 points per game in that season as well as 6.9 rebounds and 5.2 assists. Despite no Hurley or Thomas Hill. In a close final, Duke lost to the Arkansas Razorbacks despite a three pointer from Hill to tie that game at 70 with 90 seconds remaining.
It was not the end to his basketball career at Duke that Grant Hill wanted. But he still left the Blue Devils as one of the greatest basketball players in the history of the NCAA as well as a two time champion and ACC player of the year. Having retired from basketball in 2013, Hill is a Duke legend.
His number 33 was retired by Duke and he was present at Coach K’s final game as Duke head coach in 2022 as Duke lost in the final four. While it was Christian Laettner who is given most of the fame for Duke’s back to back titles, Grant Hill was hugely important in those teams.
Hill took a big risk when he decided to ignore the opinions of both his mother and father to go to Duke. While he may still have some disappointments associated with his NBA career, Grant Hill is certainly one of the best college basketball players of all time.