Malcolm Hill’s basketball travels have landed him in Asia.
The 2013 graduate of Belleville East and third all-time career scoring leader at the University of Illinois signed a contract with the Pure Foods Star Hotshots of the Philippine Basketball Association early this week and was en route to join the team Friday.
Hill’s father, also Malcolm Hill, said his 22-year-old son, who scored 1,846 points and grabbed 647 rebounds for the Fighting Illini, will be among the youngest players in the league.
“This deal came about early this week,” the elder Hill said. “It was actually a surprise. So he had to make a decision within about two or three days. Of course, mom and dad helped ... because it was a very good contract. I don’t want give an exact number, but it was an unusual contract for a kid right out of college into that league. It was quite a bit of money.”
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The Star Hotshots website lists Hill as a starter. The team’s first game is Sunday; there are 11 other company-branded teams in the league. One of Hill’s teammates is former University of Missouri forward Ricardo Ratliffe, who will be in his second year with the Star Hotshots.
The PBA has been in existence since 1975.
“(Basketball) is the No. 1 sport over in that part of the world,” Hill said. “Basketball is taken very seriously. They have good attendance, very good sponsorship.”
The average age for a Star Hotshots player is 29.
“From what I understand, they brought him in because he’s considered a special talent,” Hill said. “The pressure is on him to perform at a high level. From what his agent (Adam Pensack) told me, he’s actually expected to be the MVP of the league. He has incentives in his contract ... where if his team gets to the championship, he can get between $50,000 and $100,000.
“It was a no-brainer for him to take it. This also allows him to develop so he can get into the NBA. The season runs to the end of October, right about at the beginning of the NBA season, where if he does really well, an NBA team will be able to pick him up.”
Hill played for the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Summer League but is now a free agent.
“They haven’t released him or told him they’re done (with him),” Hill said of the Thunder. “Basically, he’s in the evaluation period with Oklahoma City. They can invite him back to fall camp or they can cut ties (with him). That contract was just for the summer.
“This is an opportunity for him to make money and then develop. I know there will be a couple of NBA teams in the Philippines to watch him play.”
David Wilhelm: @DavidMWilhelm