Adam Hillis didn’t begin playing basketball until he was 14 and a 4th year in St Louis, Ballymena. His first experience was as a teenager, hanging around at his friend’s home, which happened to have a portable basket. Coach Paul McKee, who has been developing basketball players for probably longer than he cares to remember, invited the boys to practice for the club team. Hillis, now 21-years old, has become a dominant force in the BNI Premier League. Before injuring his heel, Hillis was averaging close to 15-points a game but since his return he has become focused on helping maintain Blackstone’s position in the Premier League as the team fights off relegation.
1) Who is your favourite person to play alongside with?
I have to say I have played on the same team with a lot of great players. In fact, I don’t know how I managed to make the squad at times. I think to date, the best connection I’ve made on court has to be with Adam Murray [starting point guard for Blackstone Ballymena]. He has the eyes of a hawk paired with a great handle, which makes him a deadly basketball player.I definitely have alot of respect for him both on and off the court. He’s the catalyst to every Blackstone win, I think!
At a very close second choice, I’d have to say Daryl Harkin! We played together for Northern Ireland Universities and on the same college team. He has fantastic moves. I loved playing alongside him but it’s even better when we play against each other throughout the year.
2) Who do you think is the best player in Northern Ireland currently?
There is a huge amount of talent in Northern Ireland basketball at the minute but I think the best player in the premier league has to be Marty McDonald. I don’t think he has reached his potential yet but he gives us the edge in any game situation. Marty makes it really easy for you to play alongside him because he can read the game; he knows where to put the ball and has great on-court awareness. His offensive presence is unquestionable: he is an outright scorer. He spends so much time on the floor and is willing to sacrifice his body for the team!
Check out Hillis, stealing the ball from A-Town Tigers and going coast-to-coast for an easy dunk – seems that his foot is ‘heeling’ just fine!
3) Who inspires you?
Watching the NBA has never been my thing – we couldn’t afford Sky Sports [Editor: I hear you, Adam]. As a kid in Ballymena, I used to look at Harry McGarry [Blackstone veteran] who had great moves and was always a calming presence on-court. I used to always wish that I could pull off the moves he made every game: crazy and contested lay-ups or make that unbelievable assist that I would never have thought possible, watching from the sideline. He was a magician! He was also an inspiration for my generation. Sometimes, he shows up at practice to give us a hard-time and motivate our team.
I think my friends list on Facebook would be cut in half if I wasn’t a basketball player!
4) What is your favourite thing about basketball?
My favourite thing about basketball has been playing for the select and elite teams. When I was under-18, I was selected for the Ulster squad and later, when I went to University of Coleraine, I made the panel for the Northern Ireland University team. This gave me the opportunity to play with, and against, a lot of very talented players. The other great thing about this game is that there is a fantastic social aspect: I think my friends list on Facebook would be cut in half if I wasn’t a basketball player!