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Growing up in Chicago, Basketball saved Sean Hill Jr.

By Tom Ballato

Some might argue Chicago, Illinois, is the mecca of basketball. The city is home to some of the best basketball players worldwide, but growing up in Chicago isn’t easy. For Sean Hill Jr., growing up in a rough environment made him use basketball as an outlet, and it saved his life.

Hill stumbled across basketball at eight years old before anyone introduced him to the game. Instead, he saw a highlight of somebody getting dunked on while scrolling through the channels on the television and was hooked.

In Chicago, Hill played basketball with a crate attached to a tree in his grandmother’s backyard. He attended his aunt’s basketball games and even went to Chicago Bulls games (when the Bulls had Jamal Crawford). “Everything just started to spark me,” Hill said.

Journey to play Division I

To say it has been a journey for Hill is an understatement. He attended two high schools, Harlan High School and Simeon Career Academy High School. For personal reasons, he switched high schools and took an unconventional path to make it to a division one college. “I didn’t have any offers out of high school, so I had to seek help and travel places to get an opportunity,” said Hill.

Hill attended Malcolm X Community College in Chicago and led the team to a 46-17 record over two seasons. As a sophomore, he averaged 14.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 3.1 steals.

After two seasons at community college, Hill played his junior year at Davenport University (NAIA) in a reserve role. He shot 39.7% from three and proved to be an all-around point guard in 20.4 minutes per game. Hill saw an opportunity to play Division I and he took it and headed to Chicago State.

Hill sat out the 2013-2014 season before suiting up at Chicago State for his senior season. It was a long journey to reach the division one level, but Hill earned it. Unfortunately, he suffered an injury during the pre-season and missed some time before returning to the court in December. Hill eventually became a starter later in the season.

After college, Hill began his professional career in Spain’s fourth division. In 20 games, the Chicago native averaged 13.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.5 steals per contest.

The point guard proved himself as the team leader in 2016-2017 with Kaspiy Aktau, a club in Kazakhstan, where he averaged 19.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 2.7 steals. Hill made spots with multiple clubs in Lithuania, Georgia, and Armenia before heading to China in 2019.

Sean Hill Jr. China
Sean Hill Jr. playing in China.

Sean Hill to China

For the last two seasons, Hill has played in the Chinese Basketball Association, which has talented local players and imports. Hill embraced the challenge and showed he belonged. “No matter what, always be prepared for anyone and never underestimate because there’s a lot of talent,” claimed Hill about playing in China.

Last season he played 19 games for the Nanjing Tongxi Monkey Kings. Hill averaged 8.8 points and 1.5 assists per contest. Hill established himself as an all-around point guard with his ability to score, involve his teammates, and defend. His quickness downhill makes it tough on opposing defenses.

It’s been a journey, but Sean Hill Jr. is proving to be a success story out of Chicago and has a bright future ahead of him. He is continuing to work on himself and his game, so in the future, he can be in a better position to help others in Chicago.

Hill is currently a free agent.

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