Coach’s Corner: Cameron Hill

Photo by: Martina Almeida

In his seven seasons as head women’s basketball coach, Cameron Hill has led the Tigers to four Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) titles. As the Tigers have won 10 straight games, Hill discussed how he found himself at Trinity after playing professionally in Europe and working both in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Division I National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Basketball.

What brought you back to Trinity as the women’s coach after playing on the men’s team?

Yeah, it just was incredibly serendipitous. I was working a regular job in Dallas and running all of the summer programs for my brother Chris at Jesuit [College Preparatory Academy], so I was coaching his high school boys and started training a couple of the girls from Ursuline Academy, which is the sister school in Dallas. Long story short, the Ursuline coach had an issue really late in the summer, and they were in a pickle trying to find someone to coach the team, and the team kind of asked me to do it. I’ve never worked on the girl side before, [so] I thought to myself, ‘Really don’t have anything to lose.’ I really liked the kids, so we went ahead and took the job, and it was just one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had in coaching.

So we finished that incredibly successful year at Ursuline Academy, and that summer that position opened up here for head women’s basketball coach. [Director of Athletics] Bob King’s been a great friend and mentor to me over the course of my career, and I had actually spoken to him about whether or not I should do the high school girls thing, and he encouraged me to do it, and then he made sure that I was aware of the opening here at Trinity. So I applied, came down, did the full interview, went through the whole process, got to meet the team, had a really great rapport with them and accepted the job, and the rest is kind of history.

What’s been the biggest difference coaching men and women?

I think there’s extraordinary opportunity on both sides. My experience on the women’s side has been that they are harder to get to that point where they really trust you than men. But also, I don’t think men ever get to the depth of trust that women’s teams do, and once you establish that trust with them, there’s literally nothing they won’t do for you. It’s absolutely been, without question, the most meaningful coaching I’ve ever done in my life, just because I know the time I put in is being reciprocated by the team, and their interest in winning is equal to mine, and we’ve been able to, through a lot of hard work, build a program that I think we share the same DNA at this point.

You’ve had experience working in the NBA and at the highest levels of Division I. How do you compare those experiences with your experience now in Division III?

Quality of life is the biggest thing. This is a job where I’m completely fulfilled with the basketball experience that I have, and it affords me the opportunity to really be hands-on as a father and a husband, and for me, in my life’s experiences, those are the things that mean the most, so I really, really value and appreciate the experiences I’ve had at those other levels, and I think they’re incredible. I think that I’ve just been very fortunate to kind of find the perspective that’s led me to this level where I think I can really max out everything I can offer everyone that depends on me every day.

The WNBA started right when you started your college career. After your years playing and now coaching, what kind of impact do you think the league has had when it comes to inspiring women to play basketball?

It’s just a super valuable platform for young female athletes to see professional female athletes play at the highest level. I think it’s been a great message to the girls that we have now that it’s something to be taken seriously, and it’s an environment where you can compete and be something that people revere. I think it’s been awesome, and I hope that it continues to thrive.

If you could build your franchise around any current WNBA player, who would you choose and why?

Diana Taurasi. She’s the best. The GOAT (Greatest of All Time). She’s the kind of player that when you think about it in terms of coaching, and I won’t get too technical, but you want versatility. She’s a player that you can literally put anywhere, and you can build around her. Now, I’m a big Sue Bird fan, too, but Sue is a point guard. She’s an incredible competitor, but she’s not nearly as versatile to start a franchise as Diana would be. I mean every year there are more and more really great players coming out there. I just think Diana Taurasi has done it. She’s got incredible poise as a competitor, and she’s been one of my favorites for a long time.

Do you think Becky Hammon will be the next coach of the San Antonio Spurs or of another NBA team?

I think it’s inevitable that it’s going to happen. I think it’s going to be tricky, and I think it’s going to come with a lot of really important bridges that they’re going to need to navigate, but from a capability standpoint, Becky Hammon could be a head coach in the NBA today. There’s no question in my mind. I don’t know her at all, and my family’s got history with the Spurs, but I’ve been very impressed with the way they’ve been able to not only integrate her, but the way that they’ve been able to be the standard for the integration of the international players that they’ve had over the years. I mean, they have just done a great job making basketball better. So yes, I think she’ll be a head coach. I think she’ll do a great job. I don’t know that it’ll be in San Antonio, but I do think she’ll get the opportunity.

What three people would you invite to your dream dinner party?

My wife and two kids.

What would you eat at this dinner?

We’d have Alaskan king crab, we’d have beef tenderloin, mashed potatoes, asparagus, coconut shrimp and Caesar salad.

If you were stranded on an island, and you could only choose one person to be with, who would you choose and why?

Wilson from “Castaway” because he’s done it. We would make it.