Jackson grad Hill ready to start senior season at Mount Union
ALLIANCE Largely lost amidst all of the attention paid to college football and the NFL, college basketball has edged its way back onto the sports landscape over the past month-plus.
However, not all of college hoops is up and running, as the Division I level is operating mostly on a full schedule but lower divisions are either just getting started or in the case of the Mount Union Purple Raiders, waiting on their year to begin.
That's made for an interesting senior season for former Jackson standout Logan Hill, who's in his second year with the program after transferring from the University of Toledo.
"It has been pretty unusual. None of us is used to this or has experienced it before," Hill said of the unusual time in college sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "I do feel like with the extra time we've been given to prepare, we've done well and everyone is ready to go."
The senior forward has gotten used to late November, December and January being filled with basketball games, whether it was during his days at Jackson or either of his stops at the collegiate level. This year, his team won't play its first game until Friday night at Baldwin-Wallace, kicking off a truncated 12-game slate that will include only Ohio Athletic Conference opponents.
Like some conferences across the country, the OAC will have teams play the same opponent on consecutive days. One difference is that unlike those other conferences, which largely cover a wider geographic area, the OAC's schools are closer to one another.
That allows the conference to have, for example, Mount Union play Otterbein at home one day and on the road the following day instead of having two teams play on back-to-back days in the same location. Without games to play and with a break between semesters, Hill and his teammates were able to enjoy more down time than they would in a typical year, spending the holidays with their families and in Hill's case, watching more college basketball as a fan.
Among those games are ones featuring his close friend and former Jackson teammate Kyle Young, now a senior forward for Ohio State.
"It's good being able to watch him play because a lot of times our games coincide and I don't get to see them," Hill said. "Seeing them play and us not being able to play was tough, but it did make the holidays nice, spending time with my family and not really having to worry about anything else."
There has been a challenging side to the delayed season and more specifically, to the changes the pandemic has brought to sports for nearly a year. With classes for many schools, colleges and universities shifted to online learning at the end of last school year and the start of the current one and teams not able to have their normal offseason activities as a group much of the time, forging connections with incoming players has been more difficult.
"It's been hard being apart and away from the guys a lot and not getting to be around the new guys who are coming in," Hill said. "We've just got to make sure we get guys in the gym now and that isn't hard because we have a lot of gym rats on the team."
With less time to prepare and the knowledge that COVID could sideline individual players during the season if they test positive or are forced to quarantine due to close contact with someone who has the virus, Hill noted that players have had to learn to play new spots on both ends of the court in case they have to fill in for a missing teammate.
Against all of those developments and plot twists, Hill is on track to graduate in the fall with a dual major of marketing and finance. They're fields he became interested in after seeing his father work in a similar area, although Hill began as a biology major at Toledo. When he transferred to Mount Union and changed majors, he had a bit of catching up to do but hopes to work in the world of finance after graduation.
Before then, he's eager to jump into one final season of college basketball, even if it's not a full year the way he and his teammates would like. The past year has been an ongoing lesson in making the most of opportunities when life isn't ideal, so it's only fitting that the upcoming season promises to be more of the same.