February 24, 2016

Lillis living large

Kevin McCarthy

photo of Jeremy Lillis

Placer High School is located in Auburn, a town of 13,000 or so about 35 miles northeast of Sacramento. Though not exactly located in any sort of metropolis, nonetheless a mean game of basketball is played there as the Hillmen are 24-3 this season, having run the table at 10-0 in the Pioneer Valley League. 6-foot-8 2017 prospect Jeremy Lillis (No. 18 in the 2017 rankings) is one of the primary forces leading the way.

Dr. Mark Lee, Placer High's athletic director and head basketball coach, is succinct yet descriptive in characterizing Lillis' skills. “He's an excellent shooter, 42% on threes, averaging 16 points and 10 rebounds, a pretty good defender and athletic for size, with excellent character and academics.” Lee noted that Lillis, who is now 200 pounds, would benefit by adding some physicality to his game. From the late April 2015 Nor Cal Spring Showcase, Lillis was noted as a “face up four men who can run the floor. Can dribble operate on the block, decent one-bounce driver, ok rebounder. Could use some strength.”

With a mountain biking and snowboarding background, Lillis participated in multiple sports as a youngster. “I played soccer but got burned out on that and I started playing basketball at an early age”" He credits "my parents and my coaches” as basketball influences. “They encourage me to do my best and don't push super hard.” Because of his lengthy involvement with hoops, “I see myself as a smart player. I developed that from all the years I've been playing.” Lee's teams are noted for demonstrating a solid collective basketball IQ and for taking good shots. With a heavily-laden team of seniors, seven in all, Lillis described himself, at least this season, as “sort of more leading by example.”

Asked to name one of his best basketball moments, Lillis offered, “last year at a tournament in Redding, we were down by 19 but came back and the game went into overtime. I hit a shot with one second left and we won the tournament.” A 29-13 fourth quarter sent that game into the extra period before Lillis' game-winner. He scored 25 points in that game against Shasta.

A second highlight: “Playing in the Prep2Prep all star game last August.” Lillis played center battling some bigger prospects on the South squad and as Joel Francisco wrote, “Lillis did not back down and showed he can play at this level. He had 12 points and six rebounds and even hit two three-pointers...”

He will again be a member of Play Hart Play Smart this spring and summer and is looking to focus on improving his ball handling skills. As for recruiting, he remains wide open as Sacramento State, UC Davis and Nevada have shown interest. “I like the ocean and the west coast but I'm open to a lot of places.” With his inside-outside versatility as well as pick-and-pop talent, Lillis' versatility fits well in today's basketball climate.