Love him or hate him – it doesn’t matter, Grant Hill was a Hoop Gawd as the ’90’s began. Grant’s arrival on Duke’s campus officially began a major power shift in college basketball. The Blue Devils in the late 70’s & early parts of the 80’s were not the powerhouse program we know today. The ascension of Duke’s program was gradual at first. Signing notable prospects like Johnny Dawkins and Mark Alarie (among others) helped bring the Blue Devils to national relevance, setting the stage for players like Grant Hill to choose Duke. When Hill arrived in Durham, NC in 1990 as a freshman, things done changed! In today’s NCAA GOATs installment we’ll be taking a look back at Grant Hill’s game.
College basketball has an elite list of four-year athletes and Grant’s career stacks up among the greats. Every year he played at Duke meant success for the team. The squad made four consecutive Championship Game appearances from 1990 – 1994; repeating as NCAA Tournament champions in 1992 & 1993. The wins and appearances alone make for a fantastic legacy but the highlight of Hill’s career came during the 1992 Championship game against Kansas. In overtime, Hill made a pin-point 75ft football-style pass to Christian Latterner. Not any pass, but the pass to rule all passes…
Unguarded… mistakes were made. Christian shakes… free-throw line fade.
You can feel the generational difference in the shoe game compared to our last two GOATs, Walker & Bibby. Over the course of his career, Hill never wore anything outside the confides of team appropriate models and colorways. Diversity in terms of kicks wasn’t a priority for him, but he is the only GOAT on our list that wore two completely different shoe brands. When Hill arrived in Durham the Blue Devils were sponsored by Adidas so he wore shoes like the Artillery and Bank Shot until his Junior year. Starting in 1994, Duke switched to Nike so he wore popular models like Air Unlimited, Air Force Max and Air Swift. There was a connected feeling to his footwear; fans could go and cop exactly what they saw on court.
Grant Hill’s game on the court was well rounded and fundamentally sound. In four years at Duke he averaged 15 points and 6 rebounds while shooting 53% from the field (keep in mind he wasn’t a focal point of the offense his first two years). Versatility on both ends of the floor defined him as a player. As mentioned earlier, Grant won two NCAA Championships, but he also won national Defensive POY (1993), All-American second-team (1993), ACC POY (1994) and All-American first-team (1994). Hill exhibited great upside while at Duke and was poised for success in the NBA; we’ll end that statement on a happy note.
When you put all the pieces of Grant Hill’s career together you get an NCAA icon. Opponents hated playing against him because they knew it was going to be a long night. His continued success over four years helped Duke basketball become a marquee program. From a shoe stand point, Hill gave Nike another top college athlete to help make their early ’90’s basketball shoes the iconic footwear it is today. Not to mention the national spotlight Hill (and Duke) afforded Adidas. Hill’s career from outsole to mustache deserved to be our third NCAA GOAT of March Madness. Check in next week for our GOAT and enjoy watching the tournament this weekend! Tell us in the comments below if you think Grant Hill is a fitting GOAT.
- Side note: Having met Grant three times now, I can honestly say he’s one of the nicest professional athletes I’ve ever met.