Lauren Hill recognized by conference

Former Mount St. Joseph women's basketball player Lauren Hill was named to the first team of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, the conference announced Wednesday.

Hill, a 19-year-old freshman and native of Greendale, Indiana, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor during her senior year of high school but decided to play for the NCAA Division III college, which is located near Cincinnati.

She played in four games this season and made five layups, including two in her final game, a 66-65 victory over the College of Wooster on Dec. 16. She ended her playing career soon after and became an honorary coach for the team.

"This award is being presented to Lauren in recognition of her courage and outstanding leadership," conference commissioner Chris Ragsdale said Wednesday. "Lauren has been a tremendous inspiration and role model for all student-athletes across the country. She has shown through her leadership and dedication how one individual can truly make a difference."

Meanwhile on Wednesday, Upper Deck announced it is joining the fight to help raise awareness and funds by creating a rookie card for Hill, with all proceeds going to The Cure Starts Now Foundation. The goal of the foundation is to aid in research so they can ultimately find a cure for pediatric brain cancer and improve the quality of life for those suffering from the disease.

Fans of Hill can order her Upper Deck rookie card for $10 or an authentic signed version for $50 through the foundation's online store.

Upbeat and always smiling, Hill has helped raise more than $1.3 million for research. She is occasionally hospitalized for treatment now. Last week, the Mount St. Joseph team held its postseason banquet in Hill's hospital room.

"Even at the banquet, she comes in her wheelchair and she's all smiles. And that's truly amazing," coach Dan Benjamin told The Associated Press last week. "I don't know what her pain level is or how much suffering she's going through, but the girl smiles every time she gets a chance."

Doctors didn't expect Hill to live this long with the tumor, which folds around parts of her brain.

"The first diagnosis was December, around Christmastime, which is why I went ahead and tried to get the first game moved up," Benjamin said. "But that's Lauren. Lauren's not going to let it beat her. She's going to keep fighting."

Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.

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