Illinois Basketball: Malcolm Hill’s Great Career in a Nutshell


The Illinois basketball team has had some pretty talented players step foot on the State Farm Center floor.

Throughout time Illini fans have cherished the special players that have walked through those doors and into our hearts.

Currently, Illinois fans are witnessing the end to one of the truly great careers in the history of the program.

Malcolm Hill was recruited by former Illinois head coach Bruce Weber and committed to him back in 2011.  Despite a coaching change, he kept his pledge with new head coach John Groce.

The class of 2013 was pretty special for the Illini.  They ranked as the No. 20 class in the nation and it consisted of some talented prospects from the state of Illinois.

Hill was a four-star recruit who was also joined by fellow four-star, Kendrick Nunn.  These two were supposed to be the leaders for the program.

Illinois Fighting Illini Basketball
Illinois Fighting Illini Basketball /

Illinois Fighting Illini Basketball

To add to this talented recruiting class, Groce also scooped up three-stars Maverick Morgan, Jaylon Tate, and Austin Colbert.

Hill began developing on the usual curve that most great players do, but his recruiting class started to unravel.

Colbert was the first to leave the program.  He decided to transfer out of Illinois in mid-2015.

The next to go was Nunn after being arrested for domestic violence and pleading down to a misdemeanor battery charge.

This type of crime is unacceptable in any walk of life and Nunn was dismissed in mid-2016.

After Nunn’s departure, that only left Morgan, Tate, and Hill standing once the dust settled.

Hill came into the Illinois basketball program as a highly touted recruit in a top 20 class and is now leaving the program in the next few months as a highly regarded talent on a team that underachieved.

While Hill’s greatness has been a bright burst of sun throughout his four seasons with the Illinois program, the dark cloud of potentially missing four straight NCAA Tournaments still looms over Champaign and his career.

There really isn’t anything Hill could have done to improve this team over the past four seasons.  He has given everything he has and more to this program.

Hill is currently No. 8 on the Illinois all-time scoring list with 1,665 points and is projected to finish No. 4 with 1,784 points, right ahead of Brian Cook and right behind Dee Brown.

Those two names are synonymous with winning and success, but at the end of the day all Hill will be left with are the fun memories with his teammates and the record book.

The way I will remember Hill is a talented player that kept getting held back by circumstances outside of his control.

Hill can’t select who he plays with, which I think he wouldn’t change because that is just the type of guy he is, who coaches the team, or what plays they run.

The ship that we call the Illinois basketball team hit an iceberg about four years ago and instead of jumping off Hill decides to stick it out.  He wasn’t the first to the lifeboat, he stayed behind to try and find a way to patch up the hole.

But, that hole in the ship is irreparable just like the perception I have of Hill’s career.

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I will always see Hill as a great player, but at the end of the day, he was like a mechanic without tools, a baker without an oven, a carpenter without a saw.  He had the ability, just none of the resources.