The Illinois Orange Basketball Club
Updated: Apr 22, 2022
UM Board Member, Phyllis Wilson, interviews Dr. Malcolm Hill Sr.
Coach of the Illinois Orange Basketball Club
Within urban communities throughout the world, there are experienced leaders who are effective promoting social change, and that’s exactly what Dr. Malcolm Hill Sr. is doing with The Illinois Orange Basketball Club. Dr Hill’s vita includes teaching at the elementary school level, secondary social studies department chair, athletic director, associate principal, and 25 years of basketball coaching experience. In addition, as a coach, Dr. Hill won three Missouri District Championships, five suburban East and North conference championships; won many AAU tournaments and won five coaches of the year awards. Dr. Hill has assisted with the recruitment of more than fifty student athletes.
The non-profit Orange Basketball Club (501c3) was founded to honor his son, Malcolm Hill Jr., and the Illinois basketball players throughout the great state of Illinois. Malcolm Hill Jr. is the third all-time leading scorer in the history of the University of Illinois basketball players and currently plays for the Atlanta Hawks. I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Hill and learning more about his organization.
UM: Dr. Hill, thank you for the opportunity to interview you. I would like to share your program with other readers in an article written for Urban Missiology. First, we are really excited about The Illinois Orange Basketball Club. What inspired you to start this nonprofit basketball program for youngsters?
Dr. Hill: My career spans 27 years in education. During that time, I was a teacher and a basketball coach before I became an administrator. After becoming an administrator, I really missed coaching quite a bit, so I got involved in coaching again and my son Malcom Hill Jr. benefited from it through the Southwest Illinois Jets organization. I was able to assist his AAU coach, help develop his skills and he was able to become an accomplished basketball player. I was with the Southwest Illinois Jets for the past 10 or 11 years and I was able to learn the business. I learned how the finances work, how to schedule and how to recruit kids. So, this past year, I decided to start my own nonprofit AAU organization, The Illinois Orange Basketball Club
UM: Tell me a little bit about the Illinois Orange Basketball Club. Dr. Hill: Our mission is to provide high quality basketball skills training with an emphasis on skill development, and teaching character through educational lessons during the season. Our goal is to build strong relationships on and off the court and inspire these young men to become productive citizens.
UM: Do You offer various developmental basketball camps or is this program designed to train specifically for tournaments?
Dr. Hill: We do both, we focus on training for tournaments and we offer skill camps that range three or four times a year. Quarterly, and they go from June up until AAU season when we start recruiting in October. The league will compete in local leagues and local basketball tournaments in the Midwest Region. Our goal is to eventually compete in national basketball tournaments.
UM: During these camps, I know as coach, you are teaching essential skills and techniques and how to play competitive sports. Is there a specific age group you are working with and can girls as well as boys participate?
Dr. Hill: Actually, yes. Girls are welcome, but right now this first year with my nonprofit organization, we are primarily focused on boys, usually fifth grade up to twelfth. I have been actively recruiting coaches to coach girls because I want girls to become involved also.
UM: Earlier you mentioned that there is a character-building component to this program. Do you use experiences on the court to help build confidence and character skills that they can apply in their personal lives outside the court?
Dr. Hill: Absolutely! We teach them skills on collaboration and sportsmanship as well as emphasizing the value of healthy competition. Usually, I have a word for the month, and we may have a lesson once a month. For example, I introduced the word ‘perseverance.’ That is one of our vocabulary words. We may have obstacles to overcome, and we teach them there may be bumps in the road, but they can deal with it. They might need to go around it, to get over it, but not to quit when there is a barrier in the way. We may have words of the month such as resilience; accountability; responsibility, honesty, and integrity. Sometimes we have a team chat before practice. For instance, if something happened in the previous game, like if two of our strongest players fouled out of the game, we discuss how we were resilient and found a way to continue and win.
UM: That's impressive Dr. Hill and those are important life-long skills to have. Now, we know that the Illinois Orange basketball Club is dedicated in honor of your son Malcolm Hill Jr. Please share with us how he got started.
Dr. Hill: Well, when he was born, I was just out of college, I had been one year removed from being a college basketball player, and basketball was still heavy on my mind and heart. So, when he turned four years old, I still loved basketball, and we entered him in the North County, St. Louis YMCA basketball league. He was always a tall kid, so I put a basketball in his hand, and he just really loved it. He loved to train, and he wanted to be the best. He just took it and ran with it. His skills just grew with his height. He is six feet tall now.
UM: Malcolm Jr. definitely benefited from your leadership and positive encouragement at an early age.
Dr. Hill: Yes, he did. Of course, I forced it. him (laughing) because I was still playing and coaching after I graduated from college and he was always around it. He just loved it; he would be out there practicing with me. It was just a perfect storm for him.
UM: Dr. Hill, you played NCAA Division II basketball for the University of Missouri Tritons and your coaching career is very impressive also. What inspired you to become an educator and a coach?
Dr. Hill: Well, my late mother was an educator. I got my educational skills and passion from her. I knew early on, as early as seventh grade, that I wanted to be a teacher because I had particularly good teachers when I grew up. Yes, and my dad always wanted to be a coach, but he never got a chance to because of his job at General Motors. So, I knew I wanted to be a coach also, it was naturally in my blood. My inspiration came from both of them. Then, I had a high school coach who took an interest in me and made sure that I was able to develop my skills and earn a basketball scholarship. I have always felt like I needed to give back and that is exactly what I am doing. I love giving back and helping young men get into college.
UM: The Illinois Orange Basketball Club is a nonprofit organization, so how do you get funding and other resources?
Dr. Hill: Our funding comes from parents, fundraising and through donations to my 501c3 the small donations help so much. For example, a practice jersey costs $12. Many people think they must make large donations to benefit us, but the small ones help just as much.
UM: You are doing so much for so many. Organized sports help to keep kids from just being on the streets and getting into trouble, and your organization has a place in the community for those interested in playing the sport of basketball. That is a blessing!
Dr. Hill: Yes, that is true. Thank you! This nonprofit is like my calling for right now, because many of the kids I work with in our program come from poverty, and we charge the bare minimum to be able to participate. That is why fundraising is so important. I have also been working with a grant writer to include other programs in our organization. We are working on developing healthy eating classes; fitness and exercise classes; and financial literacy classes to support the Black community.
UM: Thank you so much for what you are doing Dr. Hill and for the opportunity for this interview. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Dr. Hill: No. Thank you very much.
UM: Well, we are hoping for the absolute best for you and the Illinois Orange Basketball Club.
I was so impressed with Dr. Hill’s energy and positivity. He is truly invested in promoting social change in his community. If you are interested in supporting the Illinois Orange Basketball Club or reading more about the accomplishments of Malcolm Hill Jr. please see: