When Florida Gators super sub Kasey Hill enters the game against UConn today to inject his lightning fast skills into the fray, he will have his blind side family watching intently. Similar to the surrogate family who cared for Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher when he was in high school, Kasey Hill benefits from a special bond with a second family which supports his efforts. In contrast to Mr. Oher, Kasey was able to connect with the Simmons family from an earlier age.
Kasey Hill was born in the small town of Umatilla, Florida, which is located northwest of Orlando about an hour’s drive away. Kasey comes from a troubled background with a father who was in prison and a mother who was not around much. When playing on a flag football team, Kasey became friends with Kyle Simmons. As the boys bonded, Kasey began spending the night at the Simmons’ home. Kasey soon fit in with Kyle and his sister Samantha. Jeff and Jennie Simmons became parental figures for Kasey. Thereafter, to confirm the familial relationship, Jeff and Jennie became Kasey’s guardians.
Living in Eustis, Florida with the Simmons family, Kasey commenced his prep career at the Christian Home and Bible School in nearby Mount Dora. The small school’s students can play varsity sports as soon as the sixth grade and Kasey’s considerable skills allowed him to suit up for Mount Dora Bible’s varsity squad as a sixth grader. Although never tall, he is only six feet tall as a college freshman, Kasey could dunk as a sixth grader. Both Kasey and Kyle flashed considerable skills and each transferred to Montverde Academy, a school known for collecting national level basketball talent. Kyle went on to become a team leader and is now a point guard for Loyola University in New Orleans. Kasey exploded on the high school elite AAU circuit and varsity sports scene to become a five star recruit and McDonald’s All American.
When recruited by Florida, Kasey grew to like Billy Donovan. The player formerly known as Billy the Kid has developed an excellent reputation as a coach who develops his players’ full talents. Kasey developed a level of trust in Coach Donovan and could see that Donovan’s background as a former college standout and NBA point guard would be beneficial to him. Further, playing for the Florida Gators in nearby Gainesville would allow Kasey Hill’s blind side family to attend games on a regular basis.
In his freshman season, Kasey has been a high octane substitute for senior Scott Wilbekin. On a senior heavy team in the hunt for an NCAA championship, Kasey has been a solid contributor. In an otherwise down game for UF against first round matchup Albany, Kasey scored 10 points off the bench. He has averaged 5.5 points and 3.2 assists in 22 minutes played per game for the Gators. Kasey also exhibits a great defensive presence on the court.
The Final Four often has feel good stories found among the players. This year is no different. Kasey Hill of the Florida Gators and his surrogate family story is inspiring, but his stellar play on the court will not blind side the UConn Huskeys. They know he’s really good.
Commentary by William Costolo