High-SchoolFlorida: Kevin Boyle

Kasey Hill and Rajon RondoKelly Kline/Getty Images and Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty ImagesKasey Hill, the No. 6 player in the ESPN 100, enjoys being compared to Celtics superstar Rajon Rondo.
This summer, ESPNHS will sit down with some of the nation's elite players to break down their game, talk about the inevitable comparisons to college and pro players and get their take on who they pattern their game after.

Player: Kasey Hill
School: Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)
Position: Point guard
Height/weight: 6-0/170
ESPN 100: No. 6

Who is Kasey Hill?

The term "pure point guard" is in vogue right now, and it's a label that describes Hill perfectly. A textbook floor general, Hill is always in complete command on the court. As a junior last season, he posted 15.4 points and 7.2 assists per game while guiding Montverde Academy to the finals of the National High School Invitational and a No. 9 ranking in the POWERADE FAB 50. But more impressive than the numbers is the way Hill controls the game.

"I don't get rattled under pressure," says Hill, a Florida recruit. "No matter what the defense is doing, I don't let them rush me into making decisions. I take my time and put my teammates in position to make plays."

Scouting report:

Sure, Hill can slither to the rim for lay-ups or step back and bury jumpers, but he's not a scorer -- he's a point guard first and foremost. Few high school players see the court the way Hill does, and he has the natural athleticism to make difficult passes, either on the break or in the half-court. According to ESPN Recruiting Nation, Hill can "get to wherever he wants on the court," combining a "tight and fluid" handle with "excellent court vision and feel for the game." His jump shot isn't perfect yet, but he shows good enough form to believe he'll eventually become a productive outside shooter. He should fit in perfectly at Florida, where coach Billy Donovan likes to run a guard-heavy spread offense.

Most frequent comparisons: Rajon Rondo, Kyrie Irving, John Wall


ESPNHS comparison: Rajon Rondo

Hill's coach at Montverde Academy, Kevin Boyle, knows a thing or two about point guards -- he also coached Kyrie Irving in high school. And some scouts see similarities between the two players, pointing to Hill as a mid-tempo point guard who can cruise into the lane at will. But we see Hill as a more natural and creative distributor, someone who can draw defenders and then whip a wraparound pass at an impossible angle and hit an open teammate in stride. Someone like Rajon Rondo, the Boston Celtics' triple-double machine. Hill can push the tempo when the opportunity is there, and his slick dribbling ability allows him to cave in defenses just like Rondo.

Kasey's comparison: Rajon Rondo

Hill says the two comparisons he hears most often are Rajon Rondo and John Wall, and he particularly enjoys the Rondo resemblance.

"People say that the way I pass is kind of like Rajon Rondo, and the way I move my feet is like John Wall," says Hill. "I love Rondo, and to say my passing is like his is like the highest level you can get. I love John Wall, too. I don't think I'm anywhere near their level yet, but I try to take things from them and put it in my game."

Follow Mike Grimala on Twitter (@MGrimalaESPN).

Findlay steals NHSI title from Montverde

March, 31, 2012
3/31/12
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BETHESDA, Md. -- Anthony Bennett knew it all along.

While everyone else had written him and top-seeded Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) off after falling behind by as many as 18 points late in the second half to No. 3 seed Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) in the ESPNHS National High School Invitational title game, Bennett knew it was only a matter of time before the Pilots turned the tables.

With 1.2 seconds left in overtime, Bennett tipped Eagles’ forward Patricio Garino’s inbounds pass out of bounds, clapped his hands together and yelled to the stands, “We ain’t losing fam! We ain’t losing!”

Bennett was right.

Findlay (32-1) managed an improbable comeback late in the fourth quarter to force overtime and eventually steal an 86-83 win over the Eagles (23-3) to claim the ESPNHS NHSI title Saturday at Georgetown Prep, in a game that was nationally televised on ESPN.

It was the Pilots’ third ESPNHS NHSI title in four years. Findlay, which is ranked No. 2 in the POWERADE FAB 50, won back-to-back in 2009 and 2010.

Brandon Ashley led the Pilots with 31 points, while Nigel Williams-Goss added 17 and Bennett, the tournament's MVP, chipped in with 13 points and eight rebounds. Kasey Hill led Montverde with 23 points and six assists.

“I pulled out everything motivational that I could,” Findlay coach Michael Peck said. “I tried everything, but at some point their switch went on and they got it done. It was all them. It was all them.”

Added Ashley: “This was the best way to go out. We fought hard and we got it done. We never got down or hung our heads. We always believed in ourselves and we got it done, man. We got it done.”

In the first half it was the Eagles who were getting it done, dominating Findlay in all aspects and claiming a 38-29 lead. Findlay’s big four -- Bennett, Ashley, Dominic Artis and Winston Shepard -- combined to shoot just 5 of 17 in the first half.

The Eagles continued to pour it on in the third quarter, beating the Pilots to loose balls, owning the offensive glass and beating them in transition. Michael Frazier made Findlay pay for switching to a 2-3 zone, draining three of the Eagles’ four third-quarter threes to extend the Eagles’ lead 54-39 headed into the fourth.

That’s when Ashley came alive.

He scored 15 points in the fourth quarter, overpowering Montverde’s frontcourt in the paint. Ashley drained two free throws with 20.5 seconds left in regulation to tie the game and send it to overtime.

“Brandon Ashley put the cape on,” Peck said. “He was the Brandon he was supposed to be.”

Montverde coach Kevin Boyle pointed out the fact that the Pilots lived at the free throw line late in the game. The Pilots made 24 of 27 free throws in the second half.

“They got a lot of calls and they were living on the line,” Boyle said. “So that means they’re scoring without the clock moving. They fought hard, but I thought they got a lot of whistles too.”

Late in overtime, Williams-Goss hit a floater to give the Pilots an 84-83 lead, then Shepard corralled a miss from Hill, got fouled and made both free throws to secure the win.

“This was pretty fun,” Ashley said. “It’s been a lot this week with McDonald’s All-American Game and this tournament, but we got it done. This was the best way to go out. Better than I ever imagined it.”

NHSI preview: Montverde Academy

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
10:48
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Team: No. 3 seed Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)
Record, FAB 50 Rank: 21-3, No. 12 (No. 2 in the Southeast)
Head Coach: Kevin Boyle (1st year at school; spent previous 23 years at St. Patrick of Elizabeth, N.J., where he won more than 400 games and coached many top players, including 2011 NBA No. 1 draft pick Kyrie Irving)

Key Players:

Michael Frazier
A transfer from Plant (Tampa, Fla.), the 6-foot-3 shooting guard leads the team in scoring and is a leading contender to be Mr. Basketball in Florida. An ESPNHS Second Team Underclass All-American last season, Frazier is rated the No. 3 prospect in the state of Florida by RecruitingNation and has signed with the University of Florida. Frazier was MVP of the Montverde Academy Invitational Tournament in January. He scored 16 points in the team’s 49-40 triumph over POWERADE FAB 50 ranked Orlando Christian Prep (Orlando, Fla.) in the title game. In the team's loss to Memphis Ridgeway (Memphis, Tenn.), Frazier went for 27 points, so they'll look to him for a big scoring night against a tough La Lumiere (LaPorte, Ind.) team.

Kasey Hill
He’s regarded as one of the elite point guards in the nation among juniors. The 6-foot-1 floor general is No. 18 in the ESPNU 60 and has committed to Florida, where he figures to join current teammate Michael Frazier on the roster for the Gators’ 2013-14 season. Hill was MVP last summer at the Adidas Invitational Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis after he led the Florida Rams AAU squad to the championship. Hill began his prep career at Mount Dora Bible (Eustis, Fla.) and was a highly-regarded by Kevin Sutton, Montverde Academy's former coach. Hill had been a ESPNHS Underclass All-American the past two seasons.

Anthony “J.P.” Cortesia
The No. 64 player in the ESPNU 100 was one of the Eagles’ most versatile talents from the first game of the season through the Montverde Academy tourney. The 6-foot-8 power forward will play next at Ole Miss. A native of Venezuela, Cortesia is not known for being a physical player, but with La Lumiere's towering size, he's going to have to battle down low and come up with key rebounds.

Note: Six-foot-10 sophomore Dakari Johnson, who followed coach Kevin Boyle to Montverde from St. Patrick of New Jersey and was the 2011 ESPNHS National Freshman of the Year, had to sit out this season due to the transfer.

Road to NHSI:

There’s little doubt the Eagles were the best team in Florida this season, regardless of school classification. They played a number of top teams in the state and when the Florida High School Athletic Association state playoffs were complete, Montverde had wins over the following champions: Hialeah Gardens (8A), Ely (7A), Lake Wales (5A) and Orlando Christian Prep (2A).

They did lose an in-state game to Hagerty of Oviedo, but were not at full strength at the time. The squad’s only other losses were to Ridgeway of Memphis and Grace Prep (Arlington, Texas). Both of those teams were top 15 ranked in the FAB 50 at the time and Grace Prep went on to win a state title of its own.

Even with those two losses, Montverde Academy had an 8-2 record against FAB 50-ranked teams and in its 24 games they outscored the competition by an average of 16.3 points.

Inside Scoop:

Boyle may not have coached in the NHSI before but has been around big-time basketball for many years. At St. Patrick, he coached Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers and 2010-2011 Mr. Basketball USA Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, currently starring at Kentucky. Boyle also will be coaching the USA team on April 7 at the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Ore.

Perhaps Boyle’s biggest challenge is getting players ready to face a quality first-round opponent in the NHSI like La Lumiere without having been in a game since Feb. 4.

Montverde's Michael Frazier and Kasey Hill form Florida's best backcourt

November, 23, 2011
11/23/11
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Frazier_HillRiku/ESPNHSMichael Frazier (23) and Kasey Hill (11) look to lead Montverde Academy to a national title.
This story originally appeared in the Holiday issue of ESPNHS magazine’s Florida edition.

Most days at lunch, Michael Frazier and Kasey Hill head to the gym to shoot hoops. It’s a chance for Montverde Academy’s starting guards and new teammates to get to know each other. It’s also a lesson in contrast.

Frazier and Hill bring different skill sets, backgrounds and personalities to the table, but they’re of one mind when it comes to this season. The goal is to lead the Eagles — who started 2011-12 as the state’s top team and No. 10 in the POWERADE FAB 50 — to a national championship.

Their differences could help them do it.

“I think we both know we’re the leaders of the team, and for us to win the national championship, we’re going to have to step up and have everyone give it their all,” Frazier says.

Hill, who is rated the nation’s No. 16 junior in the ESPNU 60, can get to the rim at will and dunks with uncanny ease for a 6-foot-1 point guard. He averaged 20.4 points and 6.8 assists per game as a freshman at Mount Dora Bible and earned All-County first team honors in his first season at Montverde last year. He’s also been working hard on his outside shot, and Frazier provides an excellent example.

“He keeps the same form every time when he shoots,” Hill says. “He’s always square and he always follows through.”

A Florida-bound senior shooting guard who is rated the nation’s No. 93 recruit (No. 2 in the state) in the ESPNU 100, Frazier averaged 29.7 points and 9.7 rebounds per game last year for Plant. He also excels academically, arriving at Montverde in August with a 4.7 GPA. He says credit goes to his dad, Michael Sr., a pastor who early on told his son his brains would take him further than a basketball would.

Frazier_Hill_Cover
Riku/ESPNHSFlorida natives Kasey Hill (11) and Michael Frazier (23) lead a Montverde Academy team stacked with talented international players.
For Hill, school has always been more of challenge. He started playing varsity basketball in sixth grade at Mount Dora, and his grandmother, Emma Fisher, says that forced him to mature quickly.

“He was moving so fast with his skills, it’s like he didn’t have time to be a little boy,” Fisher says. “He was out there with the best of those guys and they were talking big-boy talk, and he didn’t fit in.”

That was only part of the struggle. Hill says his mother was often absent, while his dad is in prison. It’s something that has caused him significant pain over the years, but he’s come to a place where he can open up about it. “It’s not something I would wish on any kid,” Hill says. “You see so much and you have to grow up a totally different way. Some nights I’d just cry all night just wishing my parents were together, or at a tournament watching me play.

“It’s just a different lifestyle that you don’t choose. You just have to step up and be able to learn. I think it helps you a lot.”

That last line might seem like a contradiction, but it’s not. Hill draws strengths from the obstacles he’s overcome.

“Basketball is easy for Kasey,” says Jeff Simmons, Hill’s guardian. “It’s everything else that he’s learned to balance and be better at that’s made him what he is today.”

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