NIU hall of famer takes Arizona assistant job

By Tony Osborne

E.C. Hill, former NIU women’s basketball assistant coach, said though she enjoys the hot weather in Arizona, leaving NIU was not easy.

“You never forget where you come from,” Hill said. “Northern is a special place.”

Hill, who is also a former Huskie player, was hired as an assistant coach by the Arizona Wildcats. Hill moved to Arizona even though the team is in its off-season.

“I grew up in Chicago and had the opportunity to play and coach, but it was time to advance my career and get out of my comfort zone,” Hill said.

Hill accumulated a laundry list of dazzling honors as a player at NIU, including Mid-Continent Conference Player of the Year and U.S. Basketball Writers Association All-American. She lead the 1993-1994 Huskies to an 18-0 conference record.

Hill’s playing time on the hardwood didn’t stop once her college career ended. Hill spent time in the WNBA with the Charlotte Sting and the Phoenix Mercury.

As a coach, she spent four years influencing NIU guard Marke Freeman on and off the court.

“[Hill] wasn’t just a coach, she was a good friend and mentor,” Freeman said. “With being so far away from home, she was the motherly figure you needed when your mother couldn’t be there.”

Wildcats point guard Shanita Arnold said she can’t wait to work with the latest addition to Arizona Wildcats basketball.

“She will bring a great personality with a lot of energy to the Wildcats,” Arnold said.

Hill’s past and future players are not the only ones to praise her. Arizona head coach Niya Butts said she is excited for Hill to join the “Wildcat family.”

“She’s a tremendous asset, and she has tons of experience as a player,” Butts told News 13 of Tucson, Ariz. “She’s played at the level that our players are aspiring to be at.”

Hill’s expectations for her new team are high.

“[We will] work hard everyday and take the season slow,” Hill said. “They had a great year at 21-12 last year and [will] build on that and win the PAC-10 Conference.”