Sports

STRIKE 3: Bearcat Jeremy Hill stands out in baseball, basketball, football

Jeremy Hill is considered one of South Mississippi’s most talented allaround athletes.

The senior excels in baseball, basketball and football for Long Beach. He’s played a key role on all three Bearcat teams making the postseason.

When asked about his athletic feats, Hill takes a humble approach. He made the All–South Mississippi basketball and baseball teams, and the preseason football squad.

“I never think of myself as one of the Coast’s best,’’ Hill said. “I just try to improve myself as a player every time I get on the field.’’

Long Beach football coach Sean Hardin is amazed at Hill never having problems adjusting to the different sports.

“Jeremy leaves football and goes right into basketball without missing a beat,’’ Hardin said. “Then, he’ll go from the basketball court to the batting cage without having problems.

“I’ve always been impressed with his ability to successfully juggle all three sports. You rarely see that kind of commitment from kids these days.’’

Diamond dandy

Hill will concentrate on baseball in the future. He will play at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College next year, having already signed with the Bulldogs.

“I want to go as far as I can in life with baseball,’’ Hill said. “I’ve been playing that sport since I was five years old.’’

Hill is projected as an outfielder on the next level, possibly at a Division I program or in the minor leagues after JUCO.

“I’m getting myself ready to play at Gulf Coast,’’ Hill said. “I’m preparing the right way: working on my hitting and pitching skills.’’

The numbers suggest Hill’s hard work and determination are paying off. He’s batting .421. On the mound, he has a 2-0 record.

“I’m a different player this year,’’ Hill said. “I’m more patient at the plate. I have to be that way because no one is pitching to me.’’

Hill earned All–South Mississippi honors as a junior last year after batting .451 with five homers. The Long Beach coaching staff loves his attitude and athleticism.

“Jeremy is a natural athlete,’’ Bearcats coach Mark Ross said. “He is starting to understand the game of baseball. When Jeremy learns how to play a whole game mentally, he will be tough to stop.’’

A passing fancy

Hill could easily have landed a D-I football scholarship. He made the Sun Herald’s Top 25 list of college football prospects in South Mississippi.

The strong-armed and super-mobile quarterback passed for 381 yards and four touchdowns to lead Long Beach into the Class 4A state playoffs.

Several D-I schools, including the Big 3, expressed interest in landing him. At 6-foot-3, he was good enough to play quarterback in the SWAC.

“What I love the most about football is playing with my friends,’’ Hill said. “My favorite position is quarterback because I’m in control of the offense.’’

Hardin thought Hill had the potential to excel at wide receiver, defensive back and maybe even quarterback in college.

“I felt that he could have played college football and been good at it.’’ Hardin said. “He has the ability to do several things. He could run and throw.’’

A pure shooter

Hill is a solid basketball player who earned a spot on the All–South Mississippi team as a junior last year, averaging 14 points and seven rebounds a game.

“What I love the best about playing basketball is its atmosphere,’’ the sweet-shooting guard said.

Hill’s scoring slightly increased to 16 points, but the Bearcats relied heavily on Savalace Townsend. Townsend averaged 25 points a game and made the All–South Mississippi team.

Long Beach coach Charlie Pavlus praised Hill for putting the Bearcats’ needs above his own individual glory.

“Before I got here, he was a focal point on the offense and took a lot of shots,’’ Pavlus said. “I told him how well Savalace had done over the summer and would be our focal point. For us to be successful, he wouldn’t be our first option.

“Jeremy accepted the role and never complained. That’s hard for a kid to do, especially after being named All–South Mississippi the year before. He was used to being in the spotlight. He did whatever we asked of him. That says a lot about Jeremy. The kids looked up to him. He’s a great kid.’’

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