NORMAL — Johnny Hill said he saw what was happening with Illinois State’s basketball program and thought it might be time for him to move on, too.
The whirlwind spring for the Redbirds added another chapter Thursday as Hill announced he has been granted his release and will transfer to another school.
The 6-foot-3 guard just completed his sophomore season with ISU. He switched to point guard and made 26 starts, averaging 7.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.3 steals. Hill, who played sparingly as a freshman, was named to the Missouri Valley Conference Most Improved Team.
“There have been a lot of changes going on and that has gotten me toward the decision I made,” said Hill. “I really did like ISU. There’s been a bunch of changes and some I wasn’t expecting. After talking with my family we thought this was the best decision.”
Hill is the fourth player to get his release after the season, joining Jon Ekey (headed to Illinois), Jordan Threloff (Northern Illinois) and Zeke Upshaw.
ISU has signed five junior college players, including three guards, this spring.
“Johnny did a really good job with his role, position and expectations,” said ISU coach Dan Muller. “He had some big games, and I thought he grew as a player. We wish him the best.”
Hill said he doesn’t know yet where he will transfer. He will have to sit out next season before having two years of eligibility beginning in the 2014-15 season.
He has already discussed what it will be like sitting out a year with his former roommate, Nic Moore, who left ISU last spring. Moore transferred to Southern Methodist and will be eligible in the fall.
“It’s going to be hard, but I look at it as a development year where I can focus and develop my game,” said Hill. “I can take time developing my shot, which I struggled with, and focus more on point guard and developing my ball handling.”
The departure of Hill means ISU will return three players next season with Division I experience — senior Bryant Allen and sophomores Nick Zeisloft and Kaza Keane.
Only Allen, Zeisloft and junior John Jones remain from players who were recruited to ISU by former coach Tim Jankovich.
“People will form their own opinion, but I had no problem with Coach Muller. He was a good coach and helped me,” said Hill. “I feel he gave me an opportunity that I was thankful for, and I expressed that to him.”
Carmichael going to combine: Jackie Carmichael is among the 60 college players who have been invited to next week’s NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. The 6-9, 240-pound Carmichael averaged 17.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks for the Redbirds as a senior and was a first-team all-Valley selection.