Last season was a year of flashes for DJ Hill (Woodbridge, Va./Hylton), as he showed flashes of his potential, averaging 7.8 points and scoring in double figures nine times. This year is about consistency for the EMU Runnin Royal, as DJ is now averaging double figures and after scoring 10 or more in all but two of his games.
The highlight came in last Wednesday’s 80-79 win at Shenandoah, when DJ made 13-of-15 field goal attempts and scored a career high 31 points. The 13th bucket was more than lucky as it came with six seconds left and gave EMU the one-point win. His 31 points in a game also blew past his previous high of 16.
The Old Dominion Athletic Conference recognized DJ as the Player of the Week for the first time in his career. It’s no surprise he is also our Royals Athlete of the Week.
With an athletic 6-6 frame, DJ is a commanding presence on both ends of the floor for the basketball men. He is scoring 12.6 points per game and shooting 55% from the floor. But DJ does more than score, adding an average of 8.4 rebounds along with nine blocked shots on the season.
What was your mindset coming into this season and how did you prepare for it?
Coming into this season, I knew we lost a lot of seniors and knew we had a big young class coming in. This gave me an opportunity to be a captain for this group and a leader for this team. In the offseason, I had a sit down with coach and spoke on the next season. Coach spoke on being a leader to this team and being more vocal than I was before. I was going to have to change my role from being an energy guy to a go-to individual. In this past summer, I had to prepare myself to be able to play bigtime minutes in games and train myself to be able to take some bumps and bruises, but more so evolve my game.
How has your confidence grown in your first season as a starter?
My confidence grew enormously coming into my first season as a starter. I had to carry a chip on my shoulder and have the mindset that no one can guard me and play with a type of swagger that at the end of the game, you do not want to play me again.
Tell me about the Shenandoah game where you scored 31 points. How were you so successful and what did it feel like to hit that game-winning shot?
The Shenandoah game was a very intense game for me with a high energy atmosphere. It was very emotional personally due to death of a family member within that week. I had to dial in even harder than anyone else and try to keep my mind clear for those two hours on the court. Mentally, I had to drop everything outside those lines but once I stepped within those lines, I had to be a dawg. It felt amazing hitting the game-winning shot with six seconds to go because not only we were on the road, but that shot was the dagger to silence the crowd. I love playing on the road where you face different challenges because it shows your character as a player and team.
After missing four games in the fall, what has it meant for you to get back on the floor with your teammates?
It meant a lot to come back and be able to help my team/brothers. Due to academic conflict, I had to take care of school first because that was important. It was hard mentally and physically because I felt that I let my team down and being a captain, I felt like I was being a bad example to the team. I felt tension from the team towards me when I was sitting, but I told my team that I will never let that happen again and I will forever have the team’s back.
What goals do you have for this season?
My goal this season is to make it back to the tournament again, but above all else is to build with the team we currently have. We are only losing one senior so almost our whole team will be returning along with some players who were injured before this season. It will be nice to run (with the same guys) again.
What is something you have learned about yourself during your time as an EMU Royal?
During my time as an EMU Royal, I learned to just be grateful and be thankful for the gift to be able to play collegiate basketball and to not take it for granted. At any time, the ball can easily be taken away due to injuries, family, school, etc. Personally, I just thank God for being able to lace up one more time.
What is your major and what do you want to do after college?
I am currently majoring in Organizational Leadership. My goal is to get into HR or be an IT specialist after college for Fairfax County Government, Alexandria Government Center, or Fort Belvoir.
Coach Melvin Felix on DJ Hill:
Congratulations to DJ on being named the Royals Athlete of the Week! His recent play has been very important to our team. Not only has his scoring helped us but more importantly his rebounding and defensive presence.