Cleo Hill

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Cleo Hill
Personal information
Born (1938-04-24)April 24, 1938
Newark, New Jersey
Died August 10, 2015(2015-08-10) (aged 77)
Orange, New Jersey
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Listed weight 185 lb (84 kg)
Career information
High school South Side (Newark, New Jersey)
College Winston-Salem State (1957–1961)
NBA draft 1961 / Round: 1 / Pick: 8th overall
Selected by the St. Louis Hawks
Playing career 1961–1968
Position Point guard
Number 24 or 12
Career history
1961–1962 St. Louis Hawks
1962–1963 Washington Tapers (ABL)
1963–1965 Trenton Colonials (EPBL)
1965–1967 New Haven Elms (EPBL)
1967–1968 Scranton Miners (EPBL)
Career NBA statistics
Points 320 (5.5 ppg)
Rebounds 178 (3.1 rpg)
Assists 114 (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 European-American) 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] Hill died on August 10, 2015.[2]


  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 August 10, 2015. 

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