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BTPowerhouse #5 - Malcolm Hill

BTPowerhouse's staff counts down the best players in the Big Ten heading into the 2016-’17 season.

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

In the months leading up to the 2016-’17 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing a new series called the 'BTPowerhouse 25,' which features the Top 25 players in the Big Ten as voted by members of the staff. All players set to be on Big Ten rosters for next season were eligible during the staff vote with their top selection receiving 25 points and their 25th and final selection receiving 1 point.

In the latest addition to the BTPowerhouse Top 25 countdown, we’re going to be taking a look at the Illinois Fighting Illini guardMalcolm Hill. While the success of the program as a whole hasn’t been there in his time, nobody around the conference has any questions or doubts about who the most dangerous presence on the Illinois team is at any time.

‘BTPowerhouse 25 - #5 Malcolm Hill

  • Eligibility: Senior
  • Career Totals: 102 games, 1243 pts, 467 rebs, 179 asts, 80 stls, 26 blks
  • 2015-16 averages: 18.1 pts, 6.6 rebs, 3.3 asts, 1.2 stls, 0.4 blks
  • Position: Shooting guard/small forward

There’s no secret that the Illinois basketball program has had its fair share of struggles the past few years, whether it be discipline issues or a failure to live up to some expectations, there’s one thing that every Big Ten team knew when they played the Fighting Illini: If you don’t contain him, Malcolm Hill will beat you.

The threat of him having a phenomenal game along with his former backcourt mate Kendrick Nunn was always a fear in the minds of opposing coaches and players.

Player Strengths

Make no mistake about it, Malcolm Hill is an offensive stud. He topped the 30 point mark on four occasions last season, with three of the four coming in conference play. In Illinois’ biggest win of the year, a home upset over the Purdue Boilermakers, Hill had himself a night, going off for 30 points en route to sending the Boilers home losers, 84-70.

Per 40 minutes last season, Malcolm Hill averaged 20.6 points, and per 100 possessions he averaged exactly 30 points. With his obvious scoring prowess, Fighting Illini were happy to see another part of the offensive game of Malcolm Hill: his passing. While, yes, 3.3 assists per game is not a number that’s jumping out of your seat, it was a huge improvement from the 1.3 assists that he averaged in his sophomore year with just an extra 4.5 minutes of playing time per game. His rebounding also took a nice leap, going from 4.8 rebounds to 6.6 per game.

Areas for Improvement

While a lot of this comes from the opposing defenses keying on him as the biggest individual threat that the Fighting Illini had, Malcolm Hill did struggle at times with his efficiency on the offensive end.

His field goal percentage was 43.2% last season, though most of the struggles came from beyond the three point line, where he shot only 31.4%. This percentage, however, dipped down from 38.9% his sophomore year, so it certainly isn’t a skill issue. If he can get his three point percentage back up around 39-40%, Malcolm Hill will certainly be a complete nightmare to opposing coaching staffs throughout the year.

Another area that Hill could see some improvement in his senior year is on the defensive end. While there’s far more to defense than can be shown with statistics, Hill per 40 minutes only averaged 1.4 steals and 0.5 blocks per game.

With an offensive talent like Hill, it’s tough to also expect him to produce big time numbers on the defensive end of the floor. However, if Hill and the Fighting Illini want to take a big step forward this season, he may have to be a big time statistical contributor on both ends of the floor.

Player Projection

You would certainly expect Malcolm Hill to build on and finish off his outstanding career at Illinois. It’s hard to say that the Fighting Illini will be contenders in the Big Ten, it shouldn’t be any stretch to think that Malcolm Hill could certainly earn a spot on the 1st Team All-Big Ten.

If they can rally behind their leader with the young talent of Jalen Coleman-Lands and some of the other underclassmen, this team could certainly be extremely dangerous to any team on any given night.

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'BTPowerhouse 25' Rankings: