By Joe Henricksen
Illinois and coach Bruce Weber's recruiting fortunes continue as fast-rising Malcolm Hill of Belleville East committed to the Fighting Illini on Monday. Hill, a long, athletic wing, has blossomed over the past 12 months and is among the top 60 players nationally in his class.
Hill, who made an unofficial visit to Champaign this past weekend, joins Hope Academy's Jalen James as the second verbal commitment for Illinois in the junior class. This follows the commitment Illinois received from senior guard Michael Orris of Crete-Monee on Sunday.
Rivals.com has Hill ranked as the No. 50 player in the Class of 2013. He checks in at No. 58 on ESPN's top 60 rankings and No. 69 in Scout.com's national rankings. Hill is currently the No. 4 ranked player in the City/Suburban Hoops Report's Class of 2013 player rankings in Illinois.
The 6-5, 200-pound Hill had a breakout sophomore season, leading Belleville East with 16.7 points a game. He also averaged 4.1 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 assists per game while shooting 74 percent from the free-throw line. He led the Lancers to a 22-7 record last season.
Hill's progression continued throughout the spring and summer while playing with the Southwest Illinois Jets on the AAU circuit. And as a result, his recruiting picked up steam and his reputation grew nationally.
A versatile wing who is quick off his feet and blessed with length and an impressive wingspan, Hill is at his best as a slasher in the open court and along the baseline in the halfcourt. While his perimeter jumper is currently not a strength, Hill just finds ways to score and is comfortable scoring over smaller defenders, getting to the basket and getting to the free-throw line. Plus, he has a chance to be a disruptive, versatile defensive presence on the perimeter with his size and long arms.
But what jumps out and excites anyone watching Hill is his enormous upside and what he could be two or three years down the road as he matures and adds weight and strength. He is nowhere near a finished product and continues to progress and get better as a player.
With James and Hill in the fold, Illinois will continue to heavily pursue Jabari Parker of Simeon in the Class of 2013 in hopes that he will round out a stellar recruiting class for Illinois in 2013.