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Solomon Hill filling a leadership void for Pacers on the court

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Solomon Hill's impact on the Pacers continues trending upward as he takes advantage of the opportunity to play heavy minutes.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Solomon Hill started the season showing the promise the Pacers' expected when they drafted him two summers ago, as injuries thrust the forward into the starting lineup. But as the team struggled to a 1-6 start, Hill reminded us that playing isn't so great if your team is losing.

But since then, the short-handed Pacers have found their stride and Hill has continued to play a big role as the team won four of their last five games. His stat line doesn't always tell the full story of how Hill played, as we learned in the team's win over Charlotte.

Hill scored just six points with five rebounds while playing a team-high 37 minutes against the Hornets. But his team was 15 points better than Charlotte when Hill was on the floor and of course, he made the game-winning play, using some veteran-level savvy to get loose along the baseline for a rebound, putback opportunity.

Those numbers also don't account for his defensive presence as he anchors the perimeter defense for the Pacers. With several team leaders on the shelf, Hill has stepped up to lead, as well.

"He's has a great basketball IQ," Vogel said. "He's picked up, with David out, in terms of being our middle linebacker defensively, our best talker."

Hill oozes maturity as he displayed with his mellow post-game reaction to beating the Hornets. Frank Vogel has Hill guarding opponents' best perimeter player each game and isn't surprised how the second-year player has evolved into a leader under trying circumstances.

"From the time we interviewed him for the draft, it was glaring that he was a very mature guy," Vogel said. "A four-year player at Arizona and the way he carried himself was as impressive to us as anything he did on the court. So to see him assume a leadership role this early is not surprising to me, even though he's a second-year player."

While at Arizona, Hill not only led with his voice but also by example, often winning the "gold jersey" award for the top practice performer each week. Now he's leading on the floor in the NBA which has come naturally when needed, not hesitating to be the guy to talk to everybody on defense to get guys going.

"Sometimes we can get quiet out there and our energy is down,: Hill said. "So anything I can do to inject a little bit of energy in our team can make a difference."

It is one thing to try to lead, but another to have teammates follow. That hasn't been an issue for Hill as the Pacers' make-shift lineup with new faces has supported Hill.

"Everybody is respectful in this group'" Hill said. "We don't have too many younger guys, we have a lot of mature guys so it's easy."

Leading any group isn't easy, let alone an NBA team in your second year. But it is simply how Hill goes about his business on the court which will only strengthen the Pacers when George Hill and David West eventually return to the court, which they will do this time, playing alongside Solomon Hill.