Q&A With Angelo Hill

Jesse: What is your full name and where are you from?

Angelo Hill. Born in Denver, Colorado, USA but moved to Casper, Wyoming, USA at the age of 14.

Jesse: Why did you choose the game of basketball?

Angelo: I needed a sport to gain a scholarship so I could go to university as I could not afford the money to go to university. Also, it was an indoor sport as living in Casper we got a lot of snow during the winter months.  

Jesse: What schools did you attend, and what are your achievements and highlights? 

Angelo: Attended Natrona County High School All- Region 1975 and 76 All State 1975 and 1976. High School All-American top 100 in 1976.

Angelo in his College days.

Jesse: You are a role model for our younger generation. What advice do you have for them getting into basketball?

Angelo: The game of basketball can teach more than winning and losing.  I have the game to thank for my values and beliefs.  Time management, setting goals, working as a member of a team are just some of the things I have learned.  Also, for the ones who really work there is the chance to play at a higher level like a scholarship in the USA plus, possibly playing Professionally all over the world.  I have life long friends and many great memories.  Adversity is also in our lives all the time and learning how to handle that is very important for your entire lives.

Jesse: What was the ultimate highlight in your basketball playing career?

Angelo: There are many as I was lucky to play on some amazing teams. Gaining a scholarship to play at Washington State University to play for George Raveling in 1976. Playing in front of very large crowds in the PAC 10 conference for 5 years.  Making it to the NCAA National tournament in 1980.  Being able to play professionally in several countries for several years. I really enjoyed having a great career here in NZ an winning championships with the Wellington Saints 1984 and 85 and with the Canterbury Rams in 1986.  Finally, having life long friends here in NZ and in the States.

Jesse: What has been the ultimate highlight outside of your basketball playing career?

Angelo: Being able to have an impact on many young lives here in NZ through coaching and getting many KIWI men and women scholarships to play in the states. Meeting my wonderful wife Michelle (LÁmi) Hill and raising two wonderful young men Corban and Nico Hill. Being able to call NZ my home since 1983.

Angelo with one of his many prodigies Eva Langton.

Jesse: Who has been your biggest influence in basketball and why?

Angelo: Jerry Dalton, my high school coach as my father died while I was in my first year of high school.  He guided me and taught me how to play the game the right way. His support and love helped me to gain all the rewards during high school.  He kept me focused and made sure that I had a chance at gaining a scholarship at the highest level.  Next, came George, Raveling my coach at Washington State University.  He took my game to another level.  He was very demanding and learning how to play at the NCAA level was a difficult transition.    He kept me focused on improving my game and gaining a university degree so that I would have something to fall back on once I was finished playing the game.  Coach Gary Becker who became my coaching mentor.  He was the one who assisted me to become a coach and give back to the game.

Jerry Datlon and Angelo.

Jesse: How did you mentally prepare yourself for a game?

Angelo: Preparing for the game takes many levels. Knowing that I had put in the training on a daily basis gave me tremendous confidence. That makes the game much easier.  Studying my opposition was also very important.  Getting the required rest and putting in the work is the biggest factor.  Mentally, I knew I was one of the better players in the League.  

Jesse: Who is the ultimate women’s basketball player in New Zealand?

Angelo: There are so many in that category.  I have coached against Caroline Grey, Leanne Walker, just two name two.  I have had the pleasure of coaching Michelle Hill, Dianne LÁmi, Nicole Gardner and many more.  Today, you have to say that Charlisse Ledger-Walker is our best women’s player who is at Washington State University.

Jesse: Who is the ultimate men’s basketball player in New Zealand? 

Angelo: Well, we just had the top 40 in 40 named so I would look at that list.  Of course there is alway going to be a debate as to who should be ranked higher or lower but, I am partial to the 1980 era.  The players on the list during that time are the ones who have built the current leagues and stadiums.  We all paved the way for what is happening now.  For me personally it was always difficult playing against Auckland (Stan Hill and Benny Anthony) and Canterbury (Clyde Huntly, John Hill and Dutchy Rademakers with  while I was with the Saints.  Ronnie Joiner averaged 50.4 for one season so guarding him was very difficult for everyone that year.  And then you have my Washington State team mate Kenny McFadden.  

Jesse: Whats the best pair of basketball shoes you have owned? 

Angelo: My first pair of leather shoes came in high school.  Before that I had to play in Chuck Taylors. I was sponsored throughout my university and pro careers so I wore whatever shoe I had to wear.  Having orthotics made it possible to play in any shoes.

Jesse: Who was the hardest person to guard in your career and why? 

Angelo: Stan Hill.  He could do everything and his size was tough to handle.  He was a fierce competitor who hated the opposition. Ronnie Joyner as he could score no matter what you did to him.  He was unstoppable. There are many more I could name during the 80’s.  You had to be ready each and every night to ple or my opposition player would kick my butt.  Always respect your opponent.

Angelo coaching Opunake High School and his son Nico.

Jesse: Who is the greatest player of all time and why?

Angelo: I was lucky to see many different eras of the NBA. First, there is Wilt Chamberlain. Great athlete and the first of many rule changes were due to his dominance in the league.  Many of his records still stand and are very difficult to argue with.  Secondly, you have Kareem Abdul Jabbar who also had some rules affecting him in college.  He still holds many records as well. Finally, Micheal Jordan.  His dominance during his era is also very difficult to argue with.  All have won championships and have had a huge impact on the NBA.  I feel that it is very difficult to say who is best as the criteria is not specific.  What about Bill Russell with his 11 championships?  NBA players are all very great in their own rights.  I can appreciate excellence in all eras. 

Jesse: If you had one piece of advice for your younger self, what would it be? 

Angelo: Hit the weight room sooner. I started lifting too late.

Jesse: Can basketball in New Zealand be improved? 

Angelo: Yes, but it takes effort from many different areas.  The young players who want to excel at this sport have to be willing to put forth the required effort and dedication to their training.  The coaches all have to continue to demand excellence from their athletes.  The national programmes have to also continue to put pressure on the athletes to train year round and we must have international competition at all the age group levels. This all takes money and that is where the problem lies with some of our youth.  I feel that the game has become very expensive to play.  I know how much I have put into my children to play the sport and neither of them ever played for NZ at any level.  I know that there is a huge increase in the participation levels but the quality of play and competition makes players better.  The game is on the rise and I know it will only continue to grow.  

Jesse: Best basketball movie or book of all time?

Angelo: Coach Carter.  I have read too many basketball books to pick one.  

Jesse: What has been your most memorable coaching experience? 

Angelo: Firstly, being named the Head Coach at Casper College.  It was in my home town and it has a tremendous reputation and tradition in  Women’s Junior College basketball.  Winning the Regional Championship in 2007 and going to the NJCAA National Tournament. Secondly, building the Opunake High School girl’s basketball program winning three Single A Championships 2012, 1016 and 2017. Finally, sending many NZ players to the States (USA) on basketball scholarships.  And coaching my two boys Corban and Nico.

Angelo and Michelle Hill with their two boys.

Jesse: Favorite basketball move?

Angelo: I love to post up and use many different moves to keep the defenders off balance.  Also, receiving the Alley Oop from Kenny Mac and throwing it down. Dunking is always a crowd pleaser.

Jesse: What was your most favorite team to play on?

Angelo: Wellington Saints 1983 – 85 and the Canterbury Rams 1986-87.

Jesse: Favorite teams to watch? 

Angelo: I just love to watch basketball. Every single basketball game is recorded on my SKY Box.  NCAA March Madness is very special.

Angelo losing the 1983 championship to Auckland.

#BuildTheCulture 🏀

Published by Jesse Wallis

Basketball Journalist

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