By Chris Whitfield
TUNNEL HILL — O’Shea Hill proved to be one of the area’s best possession receivers this past football season and garnered interest from a lot of colleges for his gridiron talents.
But the Northwest Whitfield High School senior’s first love has always been basketball.
Hill will get a chance to pursue that love in college, and he won’t have to go very far to chase it. A power forward/center who averaged 14 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and three blocks per game while leading the Bruins to the Region 7-4A championship this year, Hill signed an athletic scholarship with Dalton State College on Wednesday afternoon at Northwest.
“I felt like staying close to home, and it is a new program, which is special to be involved with bringing basketball back to Dalton State,” Hill said. “I am glad to be part of something new to the community. It will have a lot of local support with the games at the trade center, and it is a nice thing to be part of.”
Hill is the fourth signee for coach Tony Ingle, who is charged with restarting the school’s dormant basketball program. The Roadrunners will begin play next school year, and Hill will join former Beach High (Savannah) and Kennesaw State standout Ladaris Green, former University of Maryland Eastern Shore player Sean Berry and Regan O’Rourke, who is coming from Florida’s Daytona State College.
“The thing is to find young men who can bring something to the table,” Ingle said of his recruitment of Hill. “He is one of the most competitive kids I have seen, and he is tough and a serious student. Being local is just a huge bonus.”
Hill, who earned honorable mention on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Class 4A All-State Team this year, will have to make some changes to his game at college. While he worked mainly in the paint or at least within 15 feet of the basket, at 6 feet, 3 inches, he will be undersized as a forward at the next level.
“He will be more of a guard in college, and it is a move he is ready to embrace,” Northwest coach Ryan Richards said. “He is already working on making that transition. He has great court vision and can spot the open man. While he played inside for us, he is a much better face-up player.”
Hill knows his game will be different.
“I think I have to work on my jumper and dribbling more and my passing,” Hill said. “It will be hard, but I am ready to work hard and I should be ready for it when the time comes for us to take the court.”
On the football field, Hill was equal parts running back and wide receiver, and he also moonlighted as a punter when an injury to starter Miguel Villa necessitated it this year. Hill led the area in receptions this season, easily outdistancing the competition with 56 catches for 831 yards and 10 touchdowns. On the ground, he had 28 carries for 116 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
He said he had a football scholarship offer from Tusculum (Tenn.) College, but his heart was set on the court rather than the grass.
“Basketball has always been my favorite,” Hill said. “Football was a lot of fun, but basketball is where I have always felt more at home.”