Earlier this month Tayler Hill was to headline the 15-member Minnesota High School Basketball Hall of Fame class, but it didn’t happen. The ceremony was cancelled due to you-know-what.
The Minneapolis native led South to the 2009 Class AAAA state high school girls’ basketball title in her senior year. With her 106 state tournament points and 3,888 career points, she later was named Minnesota Ms. Basketball and went on to star at Ohio State.
“I knew I needed to put the team on my back even more” after South’s point guard went down with an injury, Hill recalled. She scored 47 points in that championship game.
“The falling short [of winning one in her junior year] actually was good for me, because I was so determined and willing to find any and every way in my senior year to go out with…a championship,” she said. “Of all the accomplishments that I got over the years, that was the best time, winning that state championship.”
Hill started her South career as a seventh-grader on the girls’ junior varsity team, getting promoted to varsity the following season. “I’m just as good as these group of seniors, and I am in the eighth grade,” she remembers. “My dad was my AAU coach and my coach all the way until I got to high school. We always played up and played older teams.
“Once I got to high school and I played varsity in eighth grade, that’s when I knew I can compete with these girls at any level, at any age.”
Hill hails from a basketball-playing family. She briefly talked about her rivalry with older brother Paul, who also played prep, college and pro ball. “I’m not sure I helped him, [but] he definitely helped me,” she said of P.J.
“He never let me win. There never was a time that he let me beat him. He made me figure out ways in how to score, being creative and getting around him. He never had any mercy on me.
“When I was younger, I would get so mad. As I got older, I realized he only made me better, not just physically on the basketball court but mentally as well.”
“She was heads and shoulders above the rest,” P.J. said of his sister. “One thing that I am proud of my sister is that she learned how to work hard. She had everything naturally. I am very proud of her.”
Tayler joins fellow Minneapolis City Conference stars Khalid El-Amin (2018) and Tracey Henderson (2019) in the Hall. “It’s a blessing for my name to be put up there with [them]. They were some stars, and they’ve done so much throughout the community and the state of Minnesota,” Hill said.
She begins her seventh WNBA season. She was the fourth overall pick in 2013 by Washington and recently was part of a three-team, multi-player trade. She will play for the New York Liberty, her third team as a pro.
“I think a lot of people have the misconception that being traded [is bad]. You have to look at it as a new opportunity. I’ve played seven years in the WNBA, and I am excited.
“Being inducted in the Hall of Fame, I just don’t think it has set in, especially with things going on in the world. Maybe if we had the ceremony, it would have hit me a little more. But it’s definitely a blessing,” Hill concluded.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.