Former Villanova standout guard Darrun Hilliard II was selected by the Detroit Pistons with the 38th pick of the 2015 NBA Draft. He is the first player to be drafted out of Nova since 2009, when forward Dante Cunningham was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers with the 33rd pick. Hilliard was unlikely to be chosen. He was only rated as the 62nd best prospect by DraftExpress and was not even included in Sports Illustrated's top 60 prospects, prior to the draft.
The Bethlehem, PA native’s ability to be a jack of trades stood out during pre-draft workouts. Hilliard’s trait of consistently knocking down three pointers hit home with Pistons Head Coach/General Manager Stan Van Gundy, who values three point shooting. The Pistons have struggled with outside shooting over the past few years and hope that the former Wildcat can help, after he shot 38.7% from three during his senior year under coach Jay Wright.
In addition, resiliency is one word that could describe his career on the Mainline. After playing in 29 games, averaging 4.8 points and 2.4 rebounds during his freshman year, he would come back his sophomore year and average 11.4 points, while starting in all 34 games. His junior year would be his breakout year, averaging a career high in points with 14.3 and shooting 41% from the three point line. He would maintain his scoring at 14.3 ppg during his last collegiate season.
Scouts project the 6-foot-6 guard as a 3-and-D player but he can do so much more. Hilliard is a good ball handler. He can make pocket passes off of the pick and roll. Furthermore, he can even finish at the rim with consistency and strength. Also, this past season he was called upon multiple times during crunch time to make the decisive shot or game winning play and he often delivered.
Now, Hilliard is not super athletic and his inability to rebound down low is something that may concern many NBA scouts because of his 6-foot-6, 220 pound frame but his 6’8 wingspan should reassure them. His long arms and competitiveness will allow him to cover guards and small forwards.
Getting drafted into the NBA is one thing but making an NBA roster is a whole another story. Versatility is Hilliard’s greatest attribute but will it be enough to make the Pistons’ or any other NBA teams roster? His first opportunity to prove that he belongs will come on July 4th, when Detroit opens up their Summer League play in Orlando, Florida.
Hilliard projects to be the starting shooting guard for the Pistons during Summer League play, alongside point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, recent 8th overall pick Stanley Johnson, and forward Quincy Miller.
After playing against the Indiana Pacers on July 8th at the 2015 Orlando Summer League, hopefully he will have done enough to earn a team invite. We’ll have to wait and see if Hilliard can make it onto the Pistons’ regular season roster or any NBA roster for that matter.
Photo courtesy of mlive.com
After finally winning the 2014 NJSIAA (New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association) Boys Basketball Group I championship with Pitman High School as a junior, Tim Delaney decided to transfer. This was surprising. He had just lead his team to their first state title in over 15 years and now he was gone. No longer would he wear the orange and white for Pitman.
The Villanova commit would ultimately decide to attend Blair Academy for his senior year, a boarding school in Blairstown, NJ, which is over two hours away from Pitman.
But before the big man left for Blair, he wasn’t done winning. He added the 2014 USA basketball 3x3 U18 National Championship to his trophy case, as a part of “Team Legit” at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In addition, he played with the U.S. select team in Germany.
The 6-foot-8 power forward will definitely provide depth for Nova, who recently lost starting power forward JayVaughn Pinkston to graduation. Delaney’s ability to play as a stretch four, will complement the guard dominant program and will allow him to possibly see playing time this upcoming season.
The Empire chatted with Delaney.
William Derry: What was the process like when you decided to change high schools after junior year?
Tim Delaney: Transferring for me was about better competition, so that I could get ready for college basketball. Pitman was a great place for me to develop, but I needed to play better competition and other college bound basketball players. Blair had a national schedule and we would travel up and down the east coast to play people. It was like a college life on campus.
W: Who did you go to for your advice?
T: It was really between me and my mom. It was a tough decision. When we finally did make it, we just went with [our] guts. It turned out definitely being the right decision.
W: In what ways did playing at Blair instead of Pitman, challenge you?
T: It was pretty much everything. Everyday in practice, playing against other great basketball players. My [Blair] roommate, Elijah Burns, is going to Norte Dame. Playing against him everyday in practice, it’s a different level. You can’t take any days off. In the classroom, we had a college schedule. And literally, the two places we could go, was our room or the gym.
W: How has your defense improved since transferring from Pitman?
T: At Pitman, I could get away with talking a couple plays off. I was the biggest guy. I could stand under the rim and get a rebound but when I got to Blair I couldn’t take a single play off. I had to do all of the little things, like box out. It definitely upped my defense, because I would usually get stuck on their strongest player, whether they were fast, could shoot, or they were just an animal down low. It definitely taught me a lot and to play as hard as I could every possession.
W: What was it like being recruited by Villanova?
T: It was pretty incredible. At one point they were ranked #2 in the country and got a number one seed. [I said], “Wow, I’m going to be playing there next year.”
W: Are you worried about the transition to college?
T: No, not really. I feel like I already got my freshman year out of the way at Blair and then this is closer to my house than Blair was. I [basically] just transferred from one college to another one.
W: What do you like to do off the court?
T: Usually I’m hanging out with people. I’ve got two little brothers, so helping them get around to their friends’ houses whenever I’m home and watching basketball.
Photo: Yahoo Sports
Recent Villanova graduate Darrun Hilliard II will work out with the 76ers this week, according to a recent post from his father on VUhoop.com’s Facebook page. In addition to trying out for the Sixers, Hilliard will also workout for the Dallas Mavericks, Brooklyn Nets and Phoenix Suns.
Hilliard, who is 6-foot-6, 220-pound guard, averaged 14.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and shot 38.7 percent from the three point line to help lead the Wildcats to a 2015 Big East Tournament championship last year. Furthermore, he was named the Philadelphia Big Five Player of the Year and to the All-Big East first team.
The Bethlehem, Pennsylvania native will most likely go undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft but has an opportunity to be a late 2nd round pick. He primarily played guard for head coach Jay Wright at Nova but may possibly make the move to small forward because of his 6’8 wingspan, which allows him to defend taller players.
If Hilliard does not get drafted, he will most likely be signed as an undrafted free agent and be invited to join an NBA summer league team because of his ability to handle the ball, defend and consistently hit the three ball. Furthermore, if Hilliard stands out during summer league play, he could possibly make it onto an NBA roster as a backup ball handler or as a three point/defensive specialist, but coming off the bench. However, I see him playing overseas or in the D-League rather than in the NBA.
Photo courtesy of DraftExpress
-(1) Villanova defeats (3) Michigan in the National Championship