BELLEVILLE — The father of Malcolm Hill, the senior basketball player at Belleville East High School, said Friday that his son is expected to be ready for the start of the season.
Hill, 16, a University of Illinois recruit, spent several days in St. Louis Children's Hospital in late June and early July with a blood clot in his upper left arm.
Malcolm Hill Sr. said his son, a talented 6-foot-6 1/2 guard/forward, at some point broke the top rib in his left side, an injury that went undiagnosed. He said doctors believed it could have been broken for at least one year.
The rib did not heal correctly, preventing Hill's left arm from receiving proper blood flow.
"That's what caused the blood clot," Hill Sr. said. "His rib was actually crushing his vein and that was stopping the blood flow."
Hill Sr. said his son was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, a rare condition that can involve pain in the neck and shoulder, numbness and tingling of the fingers and a weak grip. The thoracic outlet is located between the rib cage and collarbone.
Part of the rib was removed, Hill Sr. said, and his son continues to improve.
"He's doing fine. It's a lot better," Hill Sr. said. "He's been cleared to run again. He's going through physical therapy. It's looking like he's going to ready (for the season). It should be all right when they start practice, if everything goes well. He didn't lose much weight."
The injury is similar to the one suffered by St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter, who underwent surgery July 19 to relieve numbness and tingling in his right arm. Carpenter is sidelined for the season.
Hill was the Belleville News-Democrat's Class 3A-4A Player of the Year last season when he averaged 23.8 points per game. He set single-season school records for points (666) and free throws attempted (270).
During one eight-game stretch, Hill averaged 29.8 points, including a career-high 43-point outburst against Granite City on Feb. 24.
Malcolm Hill noticed his arm had become swollen soon after he returned in mid-June from the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp at the University of Virginia. He said nothing happened to the arm while he was at the camp.
Hill Sr. said it was "real scary" when his son was hospitalized.
"We had no clue, because he was a healthy kid and there was nothing genetic," Hill Sr. said.
Hill Sr. said Malcolm will have to be patient with his recovery.
"From being a former head coach myself, it's going to take a little time to get his conditioning back," Hill Sr. said. "The second thing is his timing is probably going to be off for a month. And of course, the strength, he's going to have to build that back.
"The plus side is usually he plays year-round and he's a little tired at this time of the year. But he's been able to rest, so he should be refreshed for his senior year."