Whitney Young duo back together again

By Todd McMahon

They’re back.

The Whitney Young High School connection will be making its presence full-time this year for the NIU women’s basketball team.

For the first time in two years, Cindy Conner and E.C. Hill will be on the same court in an official basketball game. The dynamic duo that shined under coach Arthur Penny on Chicago’s west side now will try to keep the magic alive for NIU head coach Jane Albright-Dieterle.

And even before the season has ever started, the accolades are already coming in. Street & Smith’s magazine has tabbed Conner and Hill on its preseason honorable mention All-America list.

“It’s quite an honor to have two people receive mention,” Albright-Dieterle said. “We’ve never had two recognized in the same season. It (the honor) has given them confidence as well as leadership.”

Taking charge is what makes up these two players and friends. From 1986-89, Conner and Hill were tearing up Chicago’s Public League. While each garnered individual recognition, the Dolphins were unable to get by state power Marshall High School in the Public League playoffs for a trip to the state finals.

Conner graduated in 1989 after being named to various national and local publications’ All-America and All-State teams. While Conner sat her first year at NIU (1989-90) due to Proposition 48, Hill was making her statement as the nation’s best her senior year at Young.

While being named to everyone’s All-America lists, the talk of the “female Michael Jordan” came to pass. As Conner prepared to see her first action as a Huskie last season, Hill was forced to sit out her first year at NIU as a Prop 48 casualty.

Hill did see action this past summer at the U.S. Olympic Festival where she was named to the All-Tournament Team. Now the two will finally be together on the same collegiate court.

But Conner points out that it’s not that big of a deal. “Whenever we’re around each other, we’re playing,” said the 1991 North Star Conference Newcomer of the Year. “We’ve played in summer camps since seventh grade, so it doesn’t feel that much different playing with her now.”

“We’ve always been playing together,” Hill said, “so it’s not too big of a deal.”

Penny thinks it’s great that his former players can work with one another again. “It’s like a reunion for them,” he said. “Their great ballplayers in their own right. Without a doubt, they complement each other so well. It was always the E.C.-Cindy show.

“For a player over six-feet tall, Cindy is just phenomenal. She can shoot the ball, dribble, play inside and then go outside.

“(E.C.) does everything. She’s a spectacular guard who can play the ‘one’ or the ‘two’ positions.”

Albright-Dieterle also has high grades for Conner and Hill. “Cindy, for a big girl, can shoot, pass and penetrate,” the eighth-year coach said. “She’s the female type of Magic Johnson.

“E.C. makes life fun for all of us. She just creates a lot of situations out there.”

Conner says she and Hill are almost mirror images of one another. “We’re the same type of players,” the Huskie junior said. “We’ve played together for a long time, and we know each other’s play so well.”

“Cindy can play at any position,” Hill said. “She’s so versatile. We’re just going to go out there and give our best.”

And the best is yet to come.