Malcolm Hill is a 22 year old 198cm guard from Illinois playing his rookie season as a professional for the Telekom Baskets Bonn. He had a four year career at Illinois(NCAA) from 2013-2017 playing a total of 136 games and as a senior played 35 games averaging 17.2ppg, 5.1rpg, 2.9apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 49.2%, 3PT: 35.5%, FT: 78.4%. With Illinois he reached the NIT Sweet 16 in 2014 and Elite 8 in 2017. He spoke to German Hoops before the easyCredit game against the EWE Baskets Oldenburg.
Malcolm thanks for talking to German Hoops. Six days ago you witness the biggest win of the season destroying Bamberg and then a few days later got ousted from the Basketball Champions League competition losing to Besiktas 95-79. Was this one of the worst up and down weeks you have ever had or did you witness that at Illinois(NCAA)?
I don´t see this week as an up and down experience, but more of a new type of learning experience for me. We have a positive attitude going into the Oldenburg game. I thought that we competed well against Besiktas, but they were a very good team.
How is the state of the team at the moment. In a moment like this do veterans like Josh Mayo or Julian Gamble do extra to keep the team spirit up or are there other factors involved?
Those two guys have been a big help keeping everyone positive. They understand that an experience like this can be tough for a rookie.
You are in Oldenburg preparing for an easyCredit BBL game against the EWE Baskets. You won the first game in Bonn rather easily 90-68. You shot very well as a team from outside, won the rebounding battle and coughed up the ball only 7 times. Was this one of the best defensive efforts of the season?
Yes for sure. We did a good job guarding Paulding in that game who can be explosive at any time. Key in that game was Yorman Polas who set the tone on defense and set the bar and we followed him. We were already clicking on offense which helped.
You have been in Germany 5 months now. How aware have you become of the Oldenburg legend Rickey Paulding? Have you noticed that he is a guy that is respected everywhere in basketball Germany?
To be honest I just had heard that he was a really good player. I don´t know anything of his past.
Both Oldenburg and Bonn are fighting for playoff position in the standings. Can we await another better defensive performance like against Bamberg?
That is the plan. We need to be able to contain their best players. We don´t have to worry about our offense, because we have enough talent there. Coach always says that we need to give a good defensive performance.
The club was hit with injuries and had it´s up and downs this season. On what things does the club need to do in the coming months to be in good shape of being a playoff team?
I feel that we have to stay physically and mentally healthy. We had a lot of injuries and key in this time was that other guys had to step up. Many players got extra roles and had to play different positions. We did a good job adjusting to new roles. I had to guard the four at times.
How important has a guy like Josh Mayo been for you? Has he been like a mentor for you on and off the court in your rookie season?
Josh has been a big help for me this season. He knows how hard it can be coming from college. I have a different role with Bonn. With Illinois my role was to score the ball and make plays. I came late to Bonn and missed the whole pre season and had to make adjustments. I have shown with Bonn that I can be a scorer, but I have shown I can play without the basketball in my hands.
How valuable have TJ DiLeo and Konstantin Klein been for your development as a rookie? I don´t think you will find two better and more annoying defenders like them who will always push you to the limit in practice?
Those two have been great and helped me a lot. But also Yorman Polas has been important. He guards me every day. He is one of the best defenders I have ever gone against. Being able to play against him everyday has really helped my game. You don´t see defenders like him often.
You’re playing your rookie season in Germany. What kind of experience has it been for you and what has been the biggest adjustment for you on the court?
The adjustment hasn´t been bad. I thought that I would get hit with traveling calls more. Some things that I have adjusted to is the shot clock resetting at 14 seconds and tipping the ball from the rim.
Let´s talk about your game. You a tall 198cm shooting guard. How would you describe your game and if you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit?
I´m not sure. My assistant coach at Illinois and teammate Julian Gamble say Paul Pierce.
You are known to being a scorer. What other assets do you possess in your game that shows that you aren´t one dimensional?
I think I show that I can score in many different ways and the way I defend. At Illinois I played the positions 1-4 and sometimes had to guard the five. I am a versatile player that can shoot the three, mid distance, pass the ball and make plays.
You’re a guy that can fill up the stat sheet, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t always get noticed right away on the court?
I used to say defense, but I get more credit for that now. My passing is underrated. People see me as a scorer.
Last summer you played at the NBA Summer League in Orlando, FL (Oklahoma City Thunder) playing 4 games averaging 1.8ppg. What kind of experience was that for you and was there any positive feedback from coaches, GM´s?
It was a cool experience. I lived the lifestyle of an NBA player kind of. I enjoyed watching lots of film and learning defensive schemes that were used in NBA games. Traveling with the team was fun. There was so much free time. They told us your on your own until game time. I didn´t get feedback, but my agent did.
What was the coolist thing you experienced in the NBA Summer League in Orlando. Did you have any encounters with important NBA figures while you were there?
The coolest experience was playing against Brandon Paul who also played at Illinois and a guy I work out with. It was cool seeing how he reached the NBA after the Summer League and I was able to play against him. We go against each other in work outs, but in a game it was different. He had some nice plays against me.
You got your first professional experience before Bonn playing briefly with the Purefoods Star Hotshots (Philippines-PBA). What was your wake up call to being a professional where you knew that you were very far away from home?
I´m used to being away from home. My siblings live with my dad and I live with my mom. I have been used to that and know how to keep myself entertained by myself. English was a common language there and I had a mall across the street from where I lived.
You played at Illinois from 2013-2017. What stands out from the NIT Elite 8 run in your senior year?
I had many special moments. One moment was almost beating Michigan in the BIG 10 tournament and going to the NCAA tournament. People were predicting that we would get blown out, but lost on a last shot. Another special moment was beating iowa in the Big 10 tournament another team that nobody expected us to beat.
You had many great games like your 39 points in a double OT loss to Notre Dame or 40 points against Northern Kentucky. What do you feel was your best game as a college player?
I think one of my favorite personal games was my second year against Maryland. A day before the game our best player got hurt. Coach came to me and told me he expected me to be the guy in the game. I finished with 28 points and we won. After this game, I figured that I could be a good player in the Big 10.
How did head coach John Groce groom and prepare you best at Illinois for a professional basketball career?
He is the reason that I became such a versatile player. I was recruited as a guard, but had to learn to play the four as a freshman. I came in as a skinny kid and had to get strong. I have used many of the skills that eh taught me at the professional level.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Joseph Bertrand?
He destroyed me.
Who won a one on one you or Brandon Paul?
I competed very well against him the last summer, but in college you could see he was a pro and I was an amateur.
Who was the toughest player that you faced in the NCAA that is in the NBA today?
Nik Stauskas of Michigan. He was the most unstoppable guy I faced in the NCAA.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Wilt Chamberlain, Lebron James
Lebron James failed to win his fourth NBA title and is still three away from Michael Jordan. Where does Lebron stand right now in your opinion in the never ending debate of who is the best of all-time?
It is hard to compare them. Jordan won the titles while Lebron reached many finals. Jordan played three years of college and was away for baseball. What Lebron is doing now is incredible. Right now I would say Mike, but you never know where Lebron´s career will end.
There has been criticism of Russell Westbrook to be focusing more on rebounding to help inflate his stats and possibilities of getting triple doubles instead of focusing on his defensive assignments. Do you feel that this is a fair assessment to the player Russell Westbrook?
No I don´t think that it is a fair assessment of him. That isn´t his true nature. He just wants to win. His schedule is so tough through 82 plus games. He brings the same energy every game. That is impressive.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
Kyle Kuzma. If the Lakers were better than he would be a good choice for rookie of the year, but Ben Simmons will get it.
Where will the journey of the Houston Rockets go this season with Chris Paul and James Harden in the back court. Do they have enough to make a serious run at the title or is something missing?
They have the pieces, but you never know how it will look like in the playoffs. They will be dangerous have a lot of confidence and want to prove themselves.
How do you rate the Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade? Who got the better deal and which team will profit better in the long run?
The Celtics did a good job grooming Taytum and Brown. Kyrie was underrated as a leader with the Cavs, but now has shown he can be a good leader. It was an even deal.
Where will the journey of the Oklahoma Thunder go this season with Westbrook, George and Anthony? Can they make a serious run in the west?
Not sure. Depends how the standings are. The west is loaded.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Death at a funeral.
Thanks Malcolm for the chat.