LOS ANGELES - When Solomon Hill committed to the Arizona Wildcats in April 2009, recruiting was in shambles after two years of coaching transition, and there was no telling if Sean Miller could even convince point guard Nic Wise to stick around for a fourth year.
Surely, Hill, a Los Angeles native, didn't think things could turn quickly around enough to get him to a Final Four by the time he left this spring. But he did think that could happen.
"Yeah, it's Arizona," Hill said after his college career ended in UA's 73-70 loss to Ohio State on Thursday. "Why wouldn't I be able to? It's the reason I came here. We're in a great location, we have great fans, and Coach Miller, the way he's put things together, I thought he'd be able to turn guys into better players over the course of four years."
Hill said Miller has turned him into a better player, as he has with seniors Kevin Parrom and Mark Lyons … but there was never a Final Four.
Hill came a game short of it in 2010-11 and two games short this season. As a freshman, he had no postseason and as a junior, it was one and out - in the NIT.
But Hill did manage to pick up two All-Pac-12 first-team honors, an outrigger paddle for being the Diamond Head Classic MVP, some improved NBA draft stock … and a bunch of friends he may have for life.
"It still really hasn't hit me that it's my last time wearing an Arizona jersey," Hill said Thursday. "It's a little different. But I love these guys. It's been a fun year. We had some ups and downs, but I wouldn't trade it for anything."
Senior guard Mark Lyons didn't get to a Final Four, either, leaving a veteran of four Sweet 16 teams - one as a redshirt under Miller at Xavier, two more as an active player with the Musketeers and this season with Arizona.
But he wasn't feeling sorry for himself Thursday, either.
"The only thing I regret is not getting past the Sweet 16, because I've been here so many times, and I just feel like I can't get over that hump," Lyons said. "But, like (Hill) said, I've got no regrets. I played with a great bunch of guys this whole year who had a lot of faith in me, and I'm just happy they accepted me to come into their program and try to help them win."
For the Wildcats' other scholarship senior, Kevin Parrom, it was a season of personal victory as well as team success. After suffering foot injuries as a freshman and junior - while also being shot in the leg and hand before his junior season - Parrom played in all 35 UA games.
"That's something I wanted to do," Parrom said. "I wanted to finish strong. That's something me and Coach talked about and something I did."
Even as he ducked his head throughout postgame interviews, Parrom was one of several players who offered an upbeat tone in an overall somber locker-room scene Thursday.
"The season in general was great," Parrom said. "We stuck with it as a team, and that's all you can ask for."
They stuck together, the UA freshmen post players all indicated, because of the tone the seniors set.
"This has been a great season," center Kaleb Tarczewski said. "It's not easy to win 27 games. I have to thank the seniors for everything they did. I got a chance to learn from them and the coaches. I know for a fact that for myself and on behalf of the other freshmen, that we're going to come back stronger."
On StarNet: Find more photos from Arizona's loss in an epic game against Ohio State at azstarnet.com/gallery
Points per game, second on team
Minutes per game, team best
Points per game, team best
Free-throw percentage, team best
Three-point percentage, second on team
Rebounds per game, fourth on team
Stat rankings include only those with enough attempts to qualify