Season in review: Malcolm Hill

Illini Inquirer basketball analyst Sean Harrington reviews Malcolm Hill's junior season, discusses what Hill must focus on this offseason and sets expectations for his senior season

Key Stats: 18.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.2 steals, 44 FG%, 82 FT%, 31 3FG%

Season in review

Malcolm Hill had a terrific season. During a season of a lot of lows, Hill was the bright spot throughout. Hill was named Second Team All-Big Ten and might have made a case for first team had the Illini won more games this year. He literally played every position on the floor this season, and his numbers improved from last season. Hill came up with big scoring games when the Illini needed them. He also raised his game from rebounding and assists. His assist-to-turnover ratio was on the positive side for the first time of his career (1.5), a good number considering how often the ball was in his hands. For the second straight season, he experienced a huge jump in his free-throw attempts (from 61 as a freshman to 155 as a sophomore to 235 as a junior). The only thing he struggled with was his shooting from beyond the arc, which was 31% -- the lowest of his career.  

Offseason Focus

Hill has done a great job each offseason of improving his game. This year should be no different. He must continue to get into the weight room. His body has really changed since he stepped on campus as a skinny 17-year-old. He must continue to get stronger to take the heavy minutes and the pounding he experiences in season. By adding more strength, he will continue to improve his opportunities to score around the rim and get to the foul line.  

Hill needs to do a lot of shooting from beyond the arc. He should not be a low 30 percent three-point shooter. Upper 30’s is about right for him. A higher percentage from three will make him even tougher to guard. That was his one weakness this season. Every day he should make 10 threes from five different spots on the floor from a catch-and-shoot. He should also make 25 threes off the move and off the dribble.  

There are a lot of plays and situations that put Malcolm Hill on the wing positions in an isolation situation. During the offseason, I would have him play a lot of one-on-one from the wing positions. Have bigs and littles guard him from these spots to work on different ways to score from there :backing down and shooting over smaller guys and using a quick move off the dribble on the bigger guys.  Also, he must continue to work on finishing with contact around the rim.  

Hill must get the other players to follow his lead. With team distractions off the court over the last few years, he needs to be in every player’s ear, and they need to follow him. He must continue needs to lead by example -- something he did well for most of this season -- but now he needs to be vocal. Leading through his voice this offseason should carry over to next season.  

2016-17 Expectations

The sky is the limit for Hill next season.  He should be a First team All-Big Player -- something Illinois hasn't had since Demetri McCamey's senior season -- and potentially the Big Ten Player of the Year. His stats might not see much of a jump from last year, but I would like his three-point percentage to be closer to 40 next season. Hill is the leader of this team. It is not his personality to be vocal, but he will have to do it more next season and get everyone to follow him. He enters his senior season with no NCAA Tournament appearances. Hill doesn't want to be remembered as the best player of the first Illinois senior class to never make an NCAA Tournament since 1980.


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