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Malcolm Hill continues NBA journey with the Chicago Bulls

Chicago Bulls forward Malcolm Hill, a 2013 graduate of Belleville East, reacts during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets in Charlotte, NC, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

Chicago Bulls forward Malcolm Hill, a 2013 graduate of Belleville East, reacts during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets in Charlotte, NC, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

AP

Former Belleville East basketball star Malcolm Hill’s journey to the NBA may finally have reached its destination.

After going undrafted in the 2017 draft, the University of Illinois’ No. 3 all-time scorer has played through NBA developmental and summer leagues, and played professionally in Europe, the Middle East and in the Philippines.

The Chicago Bulls have offered Hill, 26, a two-way contract, which would limit him to 50 games and give him more toil in the NBA G-League. But it’s an opportunity born of his solid play with the Bulls as an injury replacement last season and which takes him one step closer to his dream of him.

“It’s been a blessing first and foremost because I understand that not many people get this opportunity,” Hill said. “Been pretty awesome being able to play in my home state with the Chicago Bulls.”

The 6-6 wing has been bouncing around the pro leagues overseas and a couple stints in the NBA the last five years.

Hill said he has “enjoyed the process and has high goals” but it can be “tough sometimes” when the path is unclear.

After going undrafted in the 2017 NBA Draft, he played in the Summer League for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Hill started his professional career in the Philippines Basketball Association in 2017. He went on to play in Germany for two years, the Kazakhstan Championship, Russian Pro League, and with the Israeli Basketball Premier League.

In October 2021, Hill signed with the New Orleans Pelicans and was waived before the season began. Then he joined the Pelicans minor league team, the Birmingham Squadron where he played 14 games.

While working his way through the G-League, he said he had moments when he wondered if it was all worth the effort.

Then the Atlanta Hawks called Hill on a 10-day contract in December 2021 where he played three games and earned a 10-day contract from the Bulls a month later. The 26-year-old Hill took advantage of his opportunity and secured a two-way deal for the rest of the season.

His father, Malcolm Hill Sr. said his son has “worked extremely hard, and he is happy for him to be given this opportunity to see his dreams come true.”

In 16 regular season games, Hill flashed his potential impact going forward. During the 2022 NBA summer league, Hill’s 13.6 points per game was second on the team. He also led the team in minutes played while shooting 50% from 3-point range.

Hill said this past season has taught him how to be a pro and reignited his desire to make it in the NBA. He said his focus on him is on “staying grounded, humbled and hungry” because it is easy to get comfortable in the NBA.

“I had every excuse or reason in the world to get comfortable because I was in a lot of uncomfortable situations,” Hill said. “Moving my stuff, to playing when I first got to the Bulls, then not playing.”

Currently a restricted free agent, he can sign the qualifying offer for another two-way contract or Chicago can re-sign him to a standard contract on the 15-man roster. Hill also could get signed elsewhere on a new deal.

Hill said the best way to help the Bulls is to “stay consistent, especially with my work habits and routines.”

Right now, Hill is relying on his agent to negotiate a deal for him going into the 2022-2023 NBA season. He said he is staying patient during this phase while the NBA is at a standstill due to the trade noise surrounding Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Hill said his goal is to “give hope” to kids in the Belleville area that they can make it to the NBA, too.

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