Quarantined in Kazakhstan: Richmond Hill native recounts his experience

Hill was playing his first pro season in Kazakhstan when COVID-19 outbreak hit

Quarantined in Kazakhstan: Richmond Hill native recounts his experience
Former Richmond Hill standout Jeremiah Hill was playing his first pro season in Kazakhstan when the coronavirus outbreak hit. (Source: WTOC)

RICHMOND HILL, Ga. (WTOC) - The game of basketball has taken Jeremiah Hill places he never thought he’d go.

Like Kazakhstan.

The former Richmond Hill Wildcat star just wrapped up his first professional season in the country, playing for Astana of the Russian VTB United League.

Hill played well too. He was third in the league in assists per game (5.9) and averaging 12.5 points per game. But this season, like many others in sports, was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We played Friday. Had practice Saturday. And coach gave us two days off on Sunday and Monday,” Hill recalls. “After that, everything stopped.”

That was two weeks ago. Hill and his teammates were instructed to go to their homes in town and stay there. There would be no practices or team meetings until at least April 15.

As the outbreak spread, Kazakhstan was no different. Hill was forced to stay home alone for 11 days, wondering what was next.

“We started seeing the numbers,” Hill says of him and his teammates. "We were sitting on our phones every day, texting our agents, ‘Please get us out of here.’”

Hill spent 11 days alone in his house in Kazakhstan as the country dealt with Coronavirus. He arrived back in the States on Saturday.
Hill spent 11 days alone in his house in Kazakhstan as the country dealt with Coronavirus. He arrived back in the States on Saturday. (Source: WTOC)

The league canceled the remainder of the season on March 27. The next day, Hill was on a plane home for the United States. He was back home in Richmond Hill on Saturday.

“Zaxby’s and Chick-Fil-A, that was the first two things I had to do,” he laughs.

It wasn’t a scary ordeal, says Hill. More of an uncertain one. But it’s one he’s grateful is behind him, and has helped him focus on what’s really important.

“Just being home, just being in the presence of everyone. You don’t really realize it until you’re away for so long. That’s been the best part of it, honestly,” Hill says. “I can just open the door and touch my mom, my dad. I can talk to my brother and my sister. That kind of stuff, you can’t even put words to how much it means.”

Hill says he isn’t sure what’s next in his basketball journey, but he plans to be ready for whatever it is. For now, he’s planning to enjoy the time home with family.

And probably some more Chick-Fil-A while he’s at it.

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