Malcolm Hill was unsure of his future when John Groce was named the Illinois basketball coach. Hill had originally committed to Bruce Weber and his staff and needed reassurance the Illini were still his future home. A recent visit to campus solved the problem.
"I really enjoyed the visit. I got to meet the coaching staff. We talked about the offense and what they expect out of me. It was a really good visit."
The new attacking style fits Hill's abilities.
"Everything is fast; they really move the ball, which I like. I think it's a nice opportunity."
Staying close to home was a big advantage as well.
"It will be nice to go to a school where I can stay in the state."
The Belleville East product was disappointed with the premature conclusion to the high school season.
"It could have been better. We lost in the regionals, but outside of that we had a really good season."
Still, Hill's combination of talents got them as far as they went, and he's working hard to improve his game further.
"I still have a lot of things to work on. I've been doing pretty good, but I've still got to work hard. I've been working on my three point range, and I've been working on my defensive rebounding. I've been doing better with those things."
He has indeed. Playing with the Southwest Jets 17 and Under team in the Spring Showdown in Merrillville last weekend, he showed good range out to the arc in addition to his outstanding ability to penetrate and finish at the rim. More often than not, he gets fouled and hits a high percentage of free throws.
Hill is still young for his age group, and his emotions sometimes have gotten the better of him in the past. That was especially true when his teammates couldn't get him the ball or when things went poorly for him. He is working to improve this part of his game as well.
"Yes, I've been working on that a lot, keeping everything in balance. It's what my personal coach has told me also."
It isn't always easy, is it?
"No, it isn't."
Hill showed vastly improved maturity last weekend. Even when the Jets lost a game Saturday, in part due to an absence of several players due to Prom, he kept his head up and played hard. He is excited to see how his AAU team can perform this summer and motivated to play his best.
"I think we'll do really well. We just won the showdown last week. It's great that we got the win, but we can't hold our heads too high about it. We have to come out and focus on the next games."
By the time he reaches Illinois, Hill will be a well-rounded star with talents the Illini can exploit constructively.