Basketball, 1973-75; Assistant Basketball Coach, 1978-89
Inducted January 25, 1992
Dennis Hill was the first player in the history of the SMS basketball program to score more than a thousand points in a two-year playing career with the Bears. A native of Kansas City, Kans., Hill came to SMS as a junior in 1973, and, was reunited with former high school teammate Daryel Garrison. Hill and Garrison were the forwards in an iron-man starting lineup on what was to become one of the most memorable Bear teams ever. Coach Bill Thomas’s ballclub used a fast-breaking offense and a pressure defense on its way to a 21-9 record which included the 1974 MIAA championship. The Bears won the North Central Regional and advanced to the NCAA Division II finals in Evansville, Ind., where they beat St. Joseph’s and New Orleans before losing to Morgan State in the national championship game. Hill averaged 18.7 points and 8.4 rebounds a game to gain all-conference selection and he also received the MIAA Sportsmanship Award. In his senior season, Hill averaged 18.2 points and 9.6 rebounds a game to run his career point total to 1,034, seventh best on the all-time SMS list at the time he graduated. Hill finished with 503 career rebounds and was an all-conference choice again his senior season. He returned to SMS in 1978 to begin the first of two stints as a Bears’ assistant coach. He spent two years working for Coach Thomas, including service on the 1978 team which won the Bears’ 19th and final MIAA championship. He assisted new head coach Bob Cleeland in 1980-81 as the Bears’ began their transition to Division I status, and then returned in 1983 to begin a six-season run on the staff of head coach Charlie Spoonhour. During that time, the Bears won three Mid-Continent Conference championships, reached the quarterfinals of the 1986 National Invitation Tournament, and made SMSU’s first three NCAA Division I basketball tournament appearances in 1987, 1988, and 1989.