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HILL PLAYED ROLE IN PUTTING K-STATE BACK ON THE MAP

Also See: 'Cats Open Series with Kansas

HILL PLAYED ROLE IN PUTTING K-STATE BACK ON THE MAP

By Mark Janssen

Dalonte Hill called it a "... very tough decision.  It took several days to get my appetite back."
 
The decision came early this week with the K-State associate head men's basketball coach and recruiting coordinator deciding to leave the Wildcats to become Mark Turgeon's lead assistant at Maryland.

"You put so much effort and energy into making things right for a program, and you have such community support with so many positive e-mails saying, 'Thanks for making us believe again; thanks for putting the pride back in the program,' it makes it very difficult to leave," said Hill.
 
Hill came to K-State as an assistant coach to Bob Huggins in 2006, and was elevated to associate head coach when Frank Martin took over the program's reigns the next year.
 
In the five years prior to Hill's arrival, the Wildcat program had won 72 games without a postseason appearance.  In the last five seasons, K-State posted 118 victories with three NCAA invitations, plus two more to the NIT.
 
Upon his K-State arrival from Charlotte where he had coached as an assistant the three previous seasons, Hill said, "We were a new staff that had to believe in one another and trust that together we could get things done the right way.  Some have questioned our ways, but I think we've shown people you can do things the right way and win."
 
Hill added, "Some thought Michael Beasley was the quick answer, but Michael Beasley's team didn't have as much success as when Denis (Clemente) and Jacob (Pullen) were seniors."
 
A native of Washington D.C. and 2001 graduate of Charlotte, Hill admitted that prior to becoming a Wildcat he didn't know much about K-State other than the success of its football program.
 
"People in DC just didn't know what was going on here in basketball, but now they do," said the 32-year-old Hill.  "We have an identity that is known around the country.  People know we play hard, we get after it, and we play with intensity.  That's the K-State image today, and what I'm most proud of in having a hand in getting that done."
 
While at least partially responsible for relocating the likes of Beasley, Bill Walker, Dominique Sutton, Rodney McGruder, Wally Judge and Jamar Samuels to K-State out of the AAU ranks, Hill, who coached the D.C. Assault from 2001-03, said the K-State program runs deeper than those multi-starred talents.
 
"You can recruit these players when you have a belief in what you're selling.  You have to be part car salesman in that you have confidence about your product," said Hill, who is the first assistant to leave the Martin staff.  "You're not always going to find a Michael Beasley or a Bill Walker, but you can always find kids with talent who believe in you and are good role models.  Jacob (Pullen) became our all-time leading scorer, but was probably the least talented in his recruiting class.  But he stuck with us and continued to work."

Part of making the decision to return to Maryland and his native D.C. area was it is where his entire family still resides.  But he admits, there's a part of the Manhattan personality that he will miss.
 
"We plan to live in the suburbs, but once you drive that five minutes through those gates everything picks up in terms of traffic and crime," said Hill, who along with his wife Tish, have three daughters in Danae, Dakotah and Daeja.  "We have to prepare to become more careful."
 
Hill continued, "We're going to miss the community and the staff has been unbelievable to work with. It's just been a great experience with all that we having going at K-State and an AD (John Currie) that is going crazy trying to make this place even better with our new practice facility.  These people will always be my friends.  There will be a continued friendship for a lifetime."


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