Meet Naz Hillmon: Michigan Women’s Basketball Highest Draft Pick Ever
Those of us that love to rep the Maize and Blue know that Michigan Women's Basketball has never been the best, but over the last 4 years they have gotten better thanks to arguably the best player to ever put on a women's basketball jersey on Michigan's campus in Ann Arbor. Naz Hillmon, a forward that stands 6 feet 2 inches tall, from Cleveland, Ohio dominated in high school and sought to do the same in the College.
Naz Collected many accolades in high school including 2 district and regional titles, a state championship, Division III Northeast Lakes All-District Player of the Year for a second straight season, the All-Ohio Co-Player of the Year and was named a finalist for Ms. Basketball, all before verbally signing her college rights to the University of Michigan. She also has 2 Gold medals from her time playing for the USA U-18, U-19 women's basketball teams and the 2021 FIBA US Women's team that competed in the Americup. She came onto campus and made an immediate impact.
Freshman Fall, Freshman Fame
Her Freshman year in Crisler Center was much different than her 4 years in high school, but she was up to the tasks and rang the bell when called upon. She went from being a 4 year starter on her Varsity team in high school, to being the first women off the bench and playing the role of "Sixth Player" for the Wolverines.
In her first year of college ball she averaged 13.1 points and 7.0 rebounds on 63% shooting, which earned her a team-high 8 double-doubles and a top 10 finish in shooting percentage in the entire NCAA for women's basketball, the only freshman inside the top 50. She was named Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Year by the media, Big Ten Conference Sixth Player of the Year by the coaches, the Big Ten All-First Team and the Big Ten Conference All-Freshman team.
After having a season under her belt, Hillmon was looking to climb the ranks of the record books in Michigan Basketball history, and by picking up where she left off the season before she did exactly that. Naz was able to cracked the starting lineup as a sophomore and started all 32 games of her second season. She had double digit points a whopping 28 times during the season and finished with 11 double-doubles.
She ranked top 5 in the Big Ten for points per game(17.4), rebounds per game(8.7), and shooting percentage(.567) and 9th(558 points), 7th(277 rebounds), and 7th(56.7% shooting) to be top 10 in Michigan all time single season records. She was named a unanimous All-Big Ten first team selection by both the coaches and media.
Going into year 3 and Naz's name now holds weight, significant weight at that. At the start of the season she was named Big Ten Preseason Co-Player of the Year, and named to watch lists for the Katrina McClain Award, the Wade Trophy and Naismith College Player of the Year. Hillmon recorded a career-high 50 points and 16 rebounds, setting the all-time single-game scoring record in Michigan program history, man or woman, and recording the first 50-point game in Michigan basketball history. Breaking the previous records of 45 for women(Diane Dietz-45) and Men's(Rudy Tomjanovich-48) and was only the second Women in Michigan history with a 40-point game and only the 3rd Big Ten women's basketball player with a 50-point game.
Hillmon was named a finalist for the Katrina McClain Award for the second straight year. Hillmon ranks 4th in scoring at 25.1 points per game, second in field goal percentage (.648), 17th in rebounding (11.3) and 26th in double-doubles (10). she was named a unanimous All-Big Ten first team selection by both the coaches and media and named the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year. She became the second player in Big Ten history to earn Freshman of the Year, Sixth Player of the Year and Player of the Year honors in a career. She was named a first-team All-American by Sports Illustrated and USBWA and a second-team All-American by the Associated Press. Hillmon became the first Wolverine to be selected for All-America honors in program history. She was also named University of Michigan Athlete of the Year.
Hillmon was named Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year, and named to watch lists for the Katrina McClain Award, and the Wade Trophy. Hillmon became Michigan's all-time leading rebounder, passing the previous record of 928 set by Trish Andrew in 1993. On February 27, Hillmon became the first player in Michigan program history, man or woman, to score 2,000 points and record 1,000 rebounds. During the 2022 NCAA Tournament, she helped Michigan advance to the Elite Eight for the first time in program history, as she recorded a double-double in all four games of the tournament.
She was named a unanimous All-Big Ten first team selection by both the coaches and media, and named to the all-defensive team. Hillmon was named a finalist for the Katrina McClain Award for the third straight year. Hillmon averaged 21.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and recorded 17 double-doubles, to move into first place all-time at Michigan. First-team All-American by the Associated Press, becoming the first player in program history to earn a first-team honor from the AP. She was also named a first-team All-American by WBCA, USBWA, The Athletic, Sports Illustrated and the Wooden Award. She finished her career at Michigan as the program leader in rebounds (1,063), double-doubles (52) and free throws made (487). She ranks second all-time in scoring with 2,183 points.
Naz Hillmon just made more history even as her playing career at Michigan is done. Early in the month of April, April 11th to be exact, Naz Hillmon went on to be the first Michigan Women's basketball player drafted to the WNBA since Tabitha Pool who was selected 23rd overall and went to New York Liberty in 2005. Hillmon was drafted by the Atlanta Dream with the 15th overall pick in the 2022 draft, making her the highest draft pick in Michigan Women's basketball history.