For Darrun Hilliard, it hasn’t always been easy.
Yes, he has made contested three-pointers, dunks, and layups in traffic seem easy in front of a sold-out Pavilion crowd, but it’s hard to imagine that there was a time he didn’t have a lot of people cheering for him.
In fact, when he first came to Villanova, some thought he didn’t belong – this only fueled him.
Hilliard didn’t show up on many college recruiters’ radars. He was only a three-star prospect coming out of high school, but showed that he had a knack for proving his doubters wrong. He rose up the ranks, becoming a starter for the Wildcats in his final three seasons at Villanova.
He was once the odd man out, surrounded by four-star recruits in his class. During his sophomore year, he was the only left standing. With his former classmates gone, he began his ascent. Fans fell in love with his sweet three-point stroke and his charismatic smile.
Despite being one of the cornerstones that brought back-to-back Big East regular season titles, a Big East Tournament championship, and the top scorer for a 1-seeded team, his name barely appeared on various mock drafts. Regardless, he continued to grind it out and spend most of June on a NBA workout campaign.
His hard work paid off, as now his dream of making it to the NBA has been realized. Hilliard now has a new home in Detroit, after being drafted by the Pistons in the second round of the NBA Draft.
The Pistons’ camp was one of the earlier stops for the 6’6″ guard, who worked out for them back in June 4th. He finished the 2014-2015 season with an average of 14.3 points per game and shot 38.7% from long range. Hilliard was named Second Team All-American by Sporting News for his play this season.
Hilliard is known best for his shooting ability. While he isn’t an elite slasher, he has shown that he is capable of taking it inside at times and has the ability to finish with either hand. He has also demonstrated his defensive prowess in Jay Wright’s high pressure scheme. Hilliard has used his length in order to disrupt passing lanes and close down on opposing shooters. This past season, he averaged almost two steals per game.
Hilliard becomes the first Wildcat to be drafted since Dante Cunningham in 2009.
The Detroit Pistons finished 32-50 overall this season, last in the Central Division. The Pistons had a poor start to the season, going 5-23 until they turned it all around after the departure of forward Josh Smith.
The next step for Hilliard now is to gear up for the NBA Summer League, where he will be competing for a spot on the final roster.
Meanwhile, the Villanova Basketball family took their excitement to Twitter: