Celtics assistant coach Armond Hill,Globe columnist Bob Ryan and Joakim Noah all have something in common. All three attended the Lawrenceville School. The Lawrenceville School is a distinguished prep school located in Lawrenceville, N.J., a small community equidistant from Trenton and Princeton. Founded in 1810 by Presbyterian minister Isaac van Arsdale Brown.
Bob Ryan of the Globe graduated from Lawrenceville school in 1964 and in 1963 his team won the New Jersey Group IV Private School championship. Ryan scored 12 points in the championship game but admits that his play was mostly in garbage time.
Hill's academics weren't up to where he wanted them when he graduated from Bishop Ford High School in Brooklyn, New York, and so he went to Lawrenceville for a post-grad year in 1971 to prepare for Princeton. Thanks to him, the team went undefeated that season. The high point of the year was against undefeated Trenton High, who dared to guard Hill man-to-man, the only team to attempt that all season. When Hill left the game in the fourth quarter he had outscored the entire Trenton High team. His 50 points is a record that still stands today.
Noah attended the Lawrenceville School with the Class of 2004. Noah's team, which was 28-4 and won the state tournament. If we don't get Oden or Durant, there is at least one person in the Celtics organization who will be pushing for Noah. Here are Hill's thoughts on him at Lawrenceville:
"He was long and lanky, and he ran the floor just like he does now," says Hill. "But the big thing is his intensity. He's always up and down the floor and he tries to involve himself in every play. He is the definition of long," says Hill. "And he plays with such passion. They even use him at the top of their press. He's just great to watch."
After his year at Lawrenceville School, Hill attended Princeton University, where he played under legendary coach Pete Carril. He was named Ivy League player of the year as a senior in 1976. He was drafted 9th overall by the Atlanta Hawks in 1976. Hill had a solid career as a role player in the NBA, compiling 6.9 points and 4.3 assists per game over eight seasons playing with Atlanta, Seattle, San Diego, and Milwaukee.
After his playing career Hill returned to Princeton to complete his baccalaureate degree, earning a B.A. In psychology in 1985. He then returned to Lawrenceville School as an assistant coach. Three years later he was promoted to head coach at Lawrenceville. Hill won two Coach of the Year Awards and in 1990, he led Lawrenceville to the New Jersey State Prep School Championship.
In 1991 Hill entered the collegiate level by returning to his alma mater Princeton as an assistant coach under Pete Carril. As an assistant under Carril, he helped to guide Princeton to a 71-35 record over four seasons, winning the Ivy League title and going to the NCAA Tournament in 1992.
In 1995 he succeeded Jack Rohan as head coach at Columbia University. In eight seasons as head coach of the Lions, Hill did not have any winning seasons He compiled a 72-141 record over his 8 seasons as head coach at Columbia. On March 10, 2003, two days after Columbia finished with a 2-25 record (0-14 in Ivy League play), the worst season in the school's 103-year basketball history, Hill was fired.
Hill jumped to the NBA for the 2003-2004 season as an assistant under Terry Stotts on the Atlanta Hawks. After just one season with the Hawks, he was named to the Celtics coaching staff on July 1, 2004.
Throughout his basketball playing and coaching careers, Hill has nurtured his other passion: art. His love of art started early, when as a boy, he won a contest that awarded him a scholarship for art classes at the Brooklyn Museum. He spent one summer away from the playgrounds and basketball in favor of drawing and painting. Years later, Hill served as curator of the Lawrenceville School's museum, where he built up the collection and organized gallery shows to enhance the art education program on campus. Even while a professional player, Hill was a museum researcher in Atlanta and served on the board of the Atlanta Ballet.
"Basketball and art are very similar," Hill explained. "You're dealing with creativity, discipline and how to see."