Illinois is facing a lot of uncertainty at the moment, but its best player will be back in orange and blue next season.
Malcolm Hill announced Friday in an Instagram post that he will return to Champaign for his senior season rather than test the NBA Draft process.
"I have had a great experience here at the University of Illinois. I will be returning for my senior season," Hill wrote. "I want to come back, get my degree, continue to develop my game and have an opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament. We have unfinished business. I owe it to this wonderful community, my teammates and our great fan base. Thank you for the support and love for me and our program."
Hill has opted to not take advantage of new rules that allow underclassmen to test the NBA Draft process. New rules allow players to declare for the draft without hiring an agent, go through workouts with NBA teams and attend the NBA Draft Combine before making a final decision by May 25, all the while keeping their NCAA eligiblity intact should they choose to return to college. Hill is skipping out on that process and will just return to school.
For what it's worth, Hill is ranked as the No. 22 college junior by DraftExpress.com and is not ranked among the site's top-100 prospects for this year's draft.
But Hill's official return is terrific news for the Illini. Hill was the team's best player this past season, averaging 18.1 points per game (third in the Big Ten), 6.6 rebounds per game (ninth in the Big Ten), 3.3 assists per game (13th in the Big Ten) and 1.2 steals per game (12th in the Big Ten) in 35.1 minutes per game (fifth in the Big Ten).
It's finally a bit of good news for John Groce's team this offseason, as the program has been dealing with nothing but uncertainty since the end of the season in last month's Big Ten Tournament.
While the team awaits a decision on whether Mike Thorne Jr. will receive a medical redshirt, it has three players dealing with legal issues on serious charges in Leron Black, Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate.
As Hill mentioned in his post, he has yet to play in the NCAA tournament. Groce's teams have missed the Big Dance in each of the past three seasons, and that lack of on-court success coupled with the off-the-court issues have Groce's future somewhat in doubt. Though athletics director Josh Whitman has repeatedly said he remains committed to Groce as Illinois' head basketball coach.