When your young you usually want to do everything your own way. And when your mother creeps in from behind and tells you elsewise about something that she feels against with all her heart, one usually counters with the phrase ‘oh come on mom, it’s not like that at all. She’s a nice girl or Ronny is a good dude’. There are countless examples and one could be talking about it all day. A great example is from the classic American family show Brady Bunch where mother says ‘Don’t play ball in the house’ and son Bobby breaks mom’s favorite vase. As usual Mama was right. Often later in life when you are more experienced and mature about life matters, one realizes that mom was right back in the day. Ok so professional hooper Jeremiah Hill (188-G-1995, college: Valdosta St.) is still a young man at age 26, but when he recently received a phone call from his mom in the wee hours of the night, he didn’t hesitate or give any flak, but took the advice of his mother and took action instead of starting a long discussion that he probably wouldn’t have won. There were countless Americans playing in the Ukraine that had to find a way to leave before war broke out there. But there was also another side to the picture. What must it have been like for Americans who were under contract to a Russian team? Jeremiah Hill who often gets the Steph Curry comparisons regarding his game played for VTB league team Parma Basket Perm as war was slowly approaching in the Ukraine. They were having a pretty solid season and on playoff course. The American also was continuing to show why consistency has to be a second middle name as he belonged to the top point guards in the VTB. But then came that deciding phone call from his mama that would change his season. ‘I was sitting at home a day after practice about 2 am when my mom called and said I need to leave immediately because our government put out some warning that said we needed to leave. Then I talked to my agent and he suggested we leave until it settles down, so I packed everything I had and left by 7:25 that morning. I really did not even have time to process it all’, remembered Jeremiah Hill.
The American who played the last two seasons with BK Astana (Kazakhstan-National League) and led the VTB in assists last season in a league that also showcased top Euroleague and ex NBA player Mike James was having a solid season and just living life as best as he could in Russia. He is a guy that has seen a lot in his young life having played at two schools Savannah State and Valdosta State and also played in the ABA, G-League and in Kazakhstan. Being in Russia was just another stop on his basketball journey. War broke out in the Ukraine on Feb 24th and ever since, it has been no secret that reports coming in from many sides have explained that the Russian folk don’t even know what is really going on in the Ukraine. The American definitely got a feeling of that already before war had broke out. ‘At first we heard very little about it and thought that it would blow over, that it would not really happen. Then when things got to get more serious most of the news I was receiving was from my family and friends back home’, stated Jeremiah Hill. It is very sad when your own mother that is thousands miles away has to tell you what is really going on because the news outlets in Russia are controlled. You have to wonder how life must have been 30 years ago before the internet? Thank God for the internet in 2022. ‘I would not say blinded by propaganda but more likely kept in the dark about what was actually happening. I cannot myself speak Russian so it was not much help to watch the news because I could not understand but my teammates were finding out stuff more so from the internet rather than the news’, commented Jeremiah Hill.
It is always a blessing for that American rookie going to a foreign country and having some American vets as teammates. It is even harder when your balling in a small town where there is no English spoken and no Mcdonalds. But how tough must it be being the lone American on a Russian club that is about to go to war? For Hill who lists NBA player Delon Wright as his toughest cover in school, he had to make the best of the situation. Lucky for him was that he wasn’t a rookie anymore. Also he had lived the last two seasons in Kazakhstan and been to Russia numerous times on basketball trips. Anybody would have understood his need to go into a situation like that ‘Being the only American definitely did make it a little different in trying to get some of the guys to understand the urgency of me leaving but I hope they understood. I did not talk to other guys until after I had gotten back to the states’, remembered Jeremiah Hill. But all is all, his six months in Russia were definitely a time he won’t forget. ‘It has been a pretty wild ride being overseas since continuous things seem to be happening every year but life in Perm was not bad at all. Most of the time it was just regular everyday life. When you are sharing a journey that everyone around you is going through you kind of look for the positives rather than the negatives because it makes it easier to deal with. Although at times is could get hard it was not to much of an issue’, expressed Jeremiah Hill. When looking back at his time with Perm, he will never forget that his teammates had his back on the court, but also always off the court. As the lone American on the team, you have to reach out to each other in tough times. ‘Nothing changed for us in the city or the locker room to me unless I was just oblivious. I had a bunch of good guys around me that made sure they expressed they would help me if things escalated to a point where I would need it. They were really confused and upset by the whole thing and were against it from what I could tell’, remembered Jeremiah Hill.
The Richmond Hill Georgia native who has Jordan, Lebron, Kobe and Steph Curry on his personal NBA Mount Rushmore played his last official VTB game for Parma on Feb 13 beating Kalev/Cramo netting 13 points and last official game for the team on Feb 15th at home in the Fiba Europe Cup losing against Legia. Just packing up and departing for reasons beyond his control weren’t easy. ‘We had a ton of potential to do some great things this season maybe even something unthought of. Now it will always be a what if so to say but life goes on and we will just have to find a way to remember the good of the year’, stressed Jeremiah Hill. In the Ukraine, it was tough for some players to get out of their contracts. But for Hill, he was able to go back home without any bad memories about club management. ‘It was a really strange situation but we ended up reaching an agreement and separated from the contract allowing me to go elsewhere. All of the foreigners left and I believe will stay gone’, warned Jeremiah Hill. At the same time he was also keeping an eye on the situation in the Ukraine with his fellow American players. ‘I did know one player and I talked to him a little bit as it got really more serious. By then he had already gotten himself and his family home and was safe. I would assume that it was really stressful for them so I’m just glad they are okay’, said Jeremiah Hill.
The guard who was teammates with current Chicago Bull Malcolm Hill returned back home to be with friends and family and especially his mama. But his stay at home wasn’t long. He got that itch to play again and with the help of agency Power Sports got another gig. This time in a safer place in France with BCM Gravelines Dunkerque Grand Littoral (France-Betclic ELITE ProA). The club is battling for a playoff spot and he feels right at home. He has been starting games and is teammates with ex NBA players Ray Mccallum and John Jenkins. Plus he has needed no adjustment period as he is putting up solid stats in 4 games averaging 13.3ppg, 4.5rpg, 4.5apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 66.7%, 3PT: 40.7%, FT: 80.0%. Players in general know how much of a blessing it is to find a new job, because there are so many guys jobless as finding a new opportunity is never easy especially in Covid times. But those blessings are raised even more especially after his experience in Russia. ‘Basketball has always been how I have dealt with anything ever. In times like this is when I learn more how to realize the blessings I personally have been given both with the game and my family’, added Jeremiah Hill. He will never forget the last months even if he wasn’t Live in war torn Ukraine or took notice to so much suffering on TV. ‘Honestly, ever since the war we had with Iraq, I do my best to stay away from looking at the bad things going on in the war because some of those things will scar you for life. I really have not seen much of it just heard about some bombings’, remembered Jeremiah Hill. Even if he is still a young man, he knows never to doubt what mama says. She always knows best.