During the next few weeks, Illini Inquirer basketball analyst Sean Harrington will give a scouting report on each Illinois basketball returner. His first report focuses on the Illini's leading returning scorer, junior Malcolm Hill.
Malcolm Hill Scouting Report
Last Season in Review
Malcolm Hill not only made the most improvements from the 2013-14 season to last year on the team, but he might have made the most improvements of anyone in the Big Ten Conference. Malcolm completely transformed his body between his freshmen and sophomore seasons. He not only gained weight and strength, but he learned to play through contact and seemed like he enjoyed mixing it up inside. Last season, Malcolm made himself into a very difficult matchup for defenses. He was able to take a smaller player down on the block and finish inside but also was able to take a slower defender out on the perimeter and make threes or take his man off the dribble. Hill found himself at the free throw line 41 more times then the next highest player on the team.
This offseason is an important one for Malcolm Hill. Last season, he took some people by surprise, but he isn’t sneaking up on any teams this year. And with the loss of Tracy Abrams (torn Achilles tendon), Hill will be counted on even more. It will be important for Hill to continue to strengthen his body. He will be counted on for heavy minutes and defenses will try to focus on him and be physical with him. What made Hill so hard to defend last year was his ability to go inside and out. Getting thousands of threes up to continue to be a consistent outside shooter will be important. Also, working on moves off the dribble to be able to get to the rim for easy baskets and draw fouls will make Hill a match-up nightmare for opponents.
Malcolm Hill needs to be a leader for this team. The stats will be nice, but he needs to be vocal and hold player accountable. Consistency will be very important. The coaching staff and teammates will need to feel good going into every game that they know and believe that Malcolm will give them certain numbers and leadership every game. This will take the pressure off everyone else. Malcolm should be a double-figure scorer every game this season. I would expect his three-point percentage to be in the high 30’s again this season. He will most likely have 75+ more FTA than anyone on the team.