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75 pairs of sneakers? La Salle’s Kate Hill heads into junior season on solid footing | College basketball preview

“Any shoe you can think of, and she has it in multiple colors,’’ a La Salle teammate, Deja King, said of Hill's collection.

La Salle junior Kate Hill is about a lot more than shoes. Her coach considers her the team's hardest worker.
La Salle junior Kate Hill is about a lot more than shoes. Her coach considers her the team's hardest worker.Read moreTOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer

In Kate Hill’s own words, sitting out, not being able to play college basketball games last season, was the worst thing ever. Hill had transferred from Rutgers to La Salle in search of playing time. By all accounts, she’ll find it this season.

Hill just had to survive the year sitting out.

Passing the time, favorite thing to do?

“Go to the mall,’’ Hill said. “King of Prussia.”

Favorite store?

“House of Hoops.”

Favorite thing to buy?

“I’m a sneaker head.”

How many sneakers are we talking about here?

“Over 75 sets of shoes,’’ Hill said. “I’ve got all the boxes, a shoe rack on display.”

La Salle teammate Deja King suggests 75 could be a conservative estimate.

“Between 75 and 100," King said of Hill’s collection. (King is the other acknowledged sneaker head on the team, figuring she has between 30 and 45.)

Hill’s favorite? She’ll go with the Georgetown Air Jordan 11.

“Honestly, they just look the best — go with most of my outfits,’’ Hill said. “White and blue … I feel bad when I don’t wear them, so I try to keep them in rotation.”

Teammates will walk in her room, she said, and the response is typically the same.

“Dang, girl — why do you have so many?”

A lot of Jordans, Vans, Air Max.

“I try to stick to those four," Hill said. “I have a couple of random ones.”

Most random?

“A couple of KDs I liked," Hill said, referring to shoes endorsed by Kevin Durant.

“Any shoe you can think of, and she has it in multiple colors," King said of the Hill collection.

For the record, Hill isn’t going to be wearing any of those during a La Salle game. The Explorers are an Under Armour program. Hill said she is more than all right with that.

“Yeah, I like my Currys," Hill said.

Sitting out last season, she became close friends with King, although maybe at first King didn’t know all that such a friendship would entail.

“Deja definitely has a lot," Hill said, talking sneakers. “We’re the same size. I have a couple of her shoes in my room.”

“Whenever she tries to put an outfit together and tries to get the right shoe, I say, ‘I think I have the right one for you,’ " King said.

For example … black shirt, some writing on it. Light bluejeans. King’s thought: Space Jams 11, from her own Jordan collection.

King’s personal favorite?

“Just any pair of Jordan 11," King said.

La Salle coach Mountain MacGillivray said that when Hill first got to La Salle, she asked if she could store some stuff in the locker room.

“That does not constitute some stuff," MacGillivray remembers telling Hill.

What does the coach make of it all?

“I have no comment," MacGillivray said. “Kate has lots of style, and she needs lots of sneakers to go with all of them. As long as she plays hard on the court, I don’t care what she does with her sneakers.”

From Toronto, Hill first got into sneakers when she moved to New Jersey, boarding at the Peddie School, after her family decided this was the best path to college basketball. Her older sister Sami had done a year at Blair Academy before playing at Virginia Tech.

The family has mixed up its sports. Her father played basketball at the University of Toronto, while mom was a long and triple jumper at the same school. Two brothers played college baseball.

“Two things she’s brought to our program — a work ethic, and she’s in great shape," MacGillivray said. “She has a competitiveness to her. She’s not losing sprints. She’s going to win every conditioning drill. She’s in the gym extra without being asked and people are following that lead. Every dog track needs a rabbit. She’s been the rabbit for us.”

As it happens, Hill and King will split time at point guard, and no doubt share time on the court as well. Their coach thinks that is kind of special, seeing them compete for time while forging a close friendship.

Sharing playing time, sharing sneakers? What’s the difference?

“My parents tell me I need to stop buying shoes," Hill said, adding, “I haven’t.”

She collects other kinds of shoes, too?

“No, just sneakers," Hill said. “I think I own one pair of heels that I’m required to wear when we dress up.”

Her teammate King said newcomers to La Salle’s team don’t “know the full extent” of Hill’s collection.

When will she stop?

“Never," Hill said. “I don’t think I will ever grow out of it.”