Cleo Hill
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Cleo Hill
Cleo Hill
Personal information
Born(1938-04-24)April 24, 1938
Newark, New Jersey
DiedAugust 10, 2015(2015-08-10) (aged 77)
Orange, New Jersey
Listed height6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Listed weight185 lb (84 kg)
Career information
High schoolSouth Side (Newark, New Jersey)
CollegeWinston-Salem State (1957-1961)
NBA draft1961 / Round: 1 / Pick: 8th overall
Selected by the St. Louis Hawks
Playing career1961-1968
PositionPoint guard
Number24 or 12
Career history
1961-1962St. Louis Hawks
1962-1963Washington Tapers
1963-1965Trenton Colonials
1965-1967New Haven Elms
1967-1968Scranton Miners
Career NBA statistics
Points320 (5.5 ppg)
Rebounds178 (3.1 rpg)
Assists114 (2.0 apg)
Stats at
College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2017

Cleo Hill (April 24, 1938 - August 10, 2015) was an American professional basketball player who was selected by the St. Louis Hawks in the first round (8th overall) of the 1961 NBA draft. A 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) guard from Newark, New Jersey and the Winston-Salem State University, Hill played in the National Basketball Association for one season with the Hawks, in 1961-62, averaging 5.5 points in 58 games. Hill was only the fifth African-American from an historically Black college and university to be taken in the first round of an NBA draft.

In 2008, Hill was profiled in a segment on the ESPN documentary Black Magic, which told the story of African Americans and basketball. The segment asserted that early in that 1961-62 season, St. Louis Hawks coach Paul Seymour was told by team management to severely diminish Hill's offensive role so that stars Bob Pettit, Cliff Hagan, and Clyde Lovellette (who were all white) would receive more shot attempts. Seymour refused and was fired, and Hill's scoring averaged dropped from 10.8 points per game to 5.5 points per game. Hill never played in the NBA after that season.[1]

Hill had denied that his race was a factor in his NBA struggles, saying, "It wasn't racial. It was points." He went on to become a successful head coach at Essex County College in Newark, New Jersey.[1] A resident of Orange, New Jersey, Hill died at his home there on August 10, 2015.[2][3]


  1. ^ a b Brad Parks. "Rebound from Racism". March 9, 2008. Retrieved on March 30, 2009.
  2. ^ Dell, John (August 10, 2015). "WSSU basketball legend Cleo Hill dies". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved 2015.
  3. ^ Resolution In Memoriam of Cleo Hill, Essex County, New Jersey Board of Chosen Freeholders. Accessed December 4, 2017. "WHEREAS, Cleo Hill of Orange, New Jersey, passed from this life on Monday, August 10, 2015, at the age of 77;and WHEREAS, Cleo Hill was born and reared in Newark, New Jersey. He attended Eighteenth Avenue Elementary School, Cleveland Junior High School, and South Side (Shabazz) High School"

External links

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