Then Hill made a visit to the school — and JSU became the easy choice.
Hill made it official on Friday, signing with Jacksonville State University and head coach James Green.
“I loved it when I visited there,” said Hill, a 6-foot-8, 215-pound senior. “I liked the school. I liked the staff. The coaches really seem to care about the players. Everything felt comfortable there.”
Hill, who is entering his second year under head coach Heath Burns at Parrish, is coming off a monster 2012-13 season where he averaged 18.5 points, 14.1 rebounds, 5.5 blocks and 2.6 steals per game. Hill shot 47 percent behind the 3-point line.
He was also a force in the paint in the Alabama North-South All-Star Game, grabbing seven rebounds, blocking four shots and scoring four points in a North win.
“We are excited to have Barri become a part of the Gamecock basketball family for many reasons,” Green said of his newest addition. “He has a tremendous work ethic, has length and is a versatile player that can play both inside and outside.”
Western Kentucky, Murray State, Austin Peay and UAB had also expressed interest in Hill.
In the end, Jacksonville State’s staff went the extra mile.
“The coaches came here every week to see me. They saw me play AAU ball and in the All-Star game. It feels good (to sign). Now I don’t have to stress about where to go. Another good thing about it is my family and friends can come see me play,” Hill added.
Burns said players like Hill don’t come around very often.
“He’s one of a kind. I haven’t had one like Barri, who can play both inside and outside. He shoots and passes like a guard. The thing that makes him special is that he can defend guards, posts, the wings — anybody on the floor,” Burns said. “The progression he has made over the last year has been off the charts. He’s the kind of player every coach wants to coach. I’m glad I had a chance to be part of his career,” Burns said.
“The Jacksonville State coaches were the key. They sat right there, looked at Barri and said, ‘You are our MVP. You are our No. 1 guy. You are the guy to take us to the next level.’ They treated him like he was one of them already. It was just a perfect fit for him. They did a wonderful job recruiting him. I really think Barri could fit in anywhere, but especially at Jacksonville State. I’m ecstatic that he’s getting the chance to play at the Division I level.”
Green and his staff believe that not only Barri’s offensive and defensive skills will make him a fit at JSU, but also the type of system in which he comes from at Parrish.
“Barry is a well-coached player that comes from a program that is like us in several ways,” Green added. “They are a team that is similar to us not only in the style they play but also how hard they play on both ends of the basketball court.”
Hill begins his senior season at Parrish on Nov. 26 in the Haleyville Thanksgiving Tournament.
The Tornadoes finished one win short of the Final Four in Birmingham last season. He expects another lengthy playoff run this year.
“We should have a good chance to win it. We’ve worked really hard,” Hill said.
The Jacksonville State University athletic department contributed to the story