ALLIANCE Logan Hill is back home in more ways than one, and the former Jackson standout likes where he's landed after his basketball career took a bit of a detour.
Hill, who committed to the University of Toledo following an accomplished high school career that saw him play a key role for the second Division I boys basketball state championship in Jackson history, is back in Northeast Ohio after two seasons spent playing for the Rockets.
"It's been really nice being close to home and as soon as I made it public that I was coming back close to home, I heard from so many friends and teachers and other people who were excited that I was coming back to the area and they could come to games and support me," Hill said.
His time at Toledo didn't unfold the way he'd hoped, with a redshirt season his first year on campus for UT head coach Tod Kowalczyk, followed by a redshirt freshman season in which he played, but didn't see consistent minutes coming off the bench. He appeared in just 14 games, playing about two minutes a night.
Like many former high school standouts who have to re-prove themselves and climb the ladder all over again at the college level, Hill's initial reaction when he didn't receive as much of a chance to shine for the Rockets as he wanted wasn't to look for the exit.
He wanted to stick it out, work his way into the rotation and see if his athleticism and skill could lead to a larger role.
"After redshirting my freshman year, I wanted to stay and prove myself, so it didn't really pop it on my head until end of the season my sophomore year (to transfer)," Hill said. "I had some meetings with the coaches and made the decision that transferring was best for me."
Despite leaving UT, Hill insisted he has no ill will toward the coaching staff there. He said he's "really happy with my decision," even though leaving Toledo was sad due to the friendships he'd developed there.
Making the move to Mount Union meant going from a Division I program to a Division III school, but the transition was eased by the head coach for whom he'd be playing with the Raiders, someone he grew up watching stalk the sidelines for Jackson but hadn't gotten a chance to play for.
"'It's awesome getting a chance to play for (Mount Union head) coach (Mike) Fuline. He's a great coach and a great dude," Hill said. "I grew up watching him coach at Jackson and wanted to play for him, but he obviously moved on and I understood why he made the decision he did."
Fuline led the Polar Bears to their first state title in 2010 before passing the baton to one of his assistants, current Jackson head coach Tim Debevec, who helmed the 2017 title run.
Fuline's Mount Union teams have had one of the best runs in recent school history and the appeal of joining a team in a winning stretch appealed to Hill. Still, he didn't want to come barging in and make waves with his new team.
"Here, it feels like home and it (Mount Union's recent success) was part of my decision because I knew they had been successful and they had guys here to continue that success, but I didn't want to step on anyone's toes," Hill said.
One former teammate remains connected to Hill despite playing a couple hours south in Columbus.
Ohio State junior forward Kyle Hill, another senior leader of that 2017 title team alongside Hill, has earned his way into the starting lineup for the Buckeyes this season and according to Hill, the two friends stay in touch.
"I talk to him every day and any time we're home, we see each other," Hill said.
He noted that at Toledo, he often played on the same days as Young and the Buckeyes, meaning he couldn't catch many of his friend's games. Now, since the Purple Raiders tend to play on different days, he gets more chances to watch Hill do his thing at Ohio State. Sometimes, he'll call Young after games and offer advice or thoughts on what he saw in the game.
As for his own game and role, it's a work in progress, in several ways.
"Coach Fuline told me coming in that he had some good senior leaders this year and since he knew I had the extra year of eligibility, he wanted me to see how those guys work and lead and become a leader going forward," Hill said.
Fuline has also challenged Hill to not just be an energy and hustle player who functions mostly off the ball. After attempting just three 3-pointers in his entire high school career, Hill is being asked to play on the perimeter more and try to develop as a 3-point shooter. He's trying to make progress while contributing to a team that is on a tear, at 12-3 overall through 15 games and off to a 7-1 start in Ohio Athletic Conference play.
He's played in every game so far, averaging 18 minutes per contest and scoring at a clip of 7.6 points per game on 61.1-percent shooting.
At 57.1 percent from beyond the arc, his shooting work is paying off and with 5.2 rebounds a night, his work on the backboards remains consistent. It may not be where he saw himself when he left Jackson, but wearing purple again feels like the right fit now.