Billy "the Hill" and the Jump Hook


Billy "the Hill" and the Jump Hook

The Autobiography of a Forgotten Basketball Legend

Billy McGill and Eric Brach

328 pages
24 photographs


November 2013


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eBook (EPUB)

June 2022


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eBook (PDF)

November 2013


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About the Book

Growing up on the hardscrabble streets of LA in the late 1950s, Billy McGill stood out. At eleven he was dunking. At fifteen he was playing in pickup games against Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain—and holding his own, in part because he invented the jump hook shot, which no one could defend. How he went from college phenom, well on his way to becoming the greatest player Los Angeles ever produced, to sleeping in abandoned houses and washing up in a Laundromat sink is the story Billy “the Hill” McGill recounts here. 

The first African American to play basketball for the University of Utah and the highest scoring big man in NCAA history, McGill was the first pick of the 1962 NBA draft. But the injury that would undo him—a knee injury in his junior year of high school—had already occurred, and it would worsen year after year until his career faded away. From college star (whose scoring record is still unbroken) to troubled player, bouncing around the NBA and the ABA, McGill takes us from the heights to his precipitous fall—and the slow recovery of a life he had never prepared for. A cautionary tale, written with a candor and authenticity rarely seen in pro athletes, his book is also the incredible story of one of the greatest unknown basketball players of all time.

Author Bio

A member of both the Utah and the Los Angeles Sports Halls of Fame, BILLY MCGILL (1939–2014) was a three-time All-American basketball player, one of only seven players in NCAA history to tally over 2,300 points and 1,100 rebounds in just three years of play. He retired from Hughes Aircraft, where he worked for many years and lived in Los Angeles. ERIC BRACH is a lecturer in English at California Lutheran University.


“Billy McGill’s discipline, creativity, and ingenuity changed basketball—the way we played it, watched it and most importantly, the way we thought about it. Are you bold, smart, and open minded enough to let his remarkable life’s story change you now—for the better?”—Bill Walton, retired professional basketball player and television sportscaster

"A solid choice for collections where interest in NBA history is high."—Wes Lukowsky, Booklist

"This book will remind basketball fans of one of the greatest players in college hoops history. Next time you see a big man jump off two feet and loft a one-handed shot from behind his head, think of The Hill."—Geoff Griffin, City Weekly
"Billy “the Hill” and the Jump Hook succeeds because it offers an insight into big-time college and professional basketball in the late-50s and early-60s and the exploitation that some players suffered."—Dennis Gildea, ARETE

"Much more than a book about basketball, this is a very human story of will and determination triumphing over tremendous hardship and adversity. As such, it should appeal to all sports fans as well as to readers of autobiographies. It would also make a terrific movie."—Library Journal Starred Review

Table of Contents



1. The Beginning

2. Welcome to LA

3. Introduction to the Game

4. The First Day of the Rest of My Life

5. Things Come Together; Things Fall Apart

6. The Hill

7. The Shot

8. The Other Shot

9. Road to Recovery

10. Road to Recovery 2

11. Victory

12. Good-bye, LA

13. "No Coloreds"

14. Passing

15. The Needle

16. Sophomore Year

17. Ohio State

18. Tragedy in Triplicate

19. Girls

20. Junior Year

21. One Last Summer

22. Senior Year

23. A Bad Bounce

24. Last Hurrah at Utah

25. Welcome to the Big Leagues, Kid

26. Training Camp

27. Exhibition

28. The Season Begins

29. Good-bye, Zephyrs

30. The Knicks

31. The Heights

32. Thank You; Please Leave

33. All Good Things

34. Can You Come Home Again?

35. In and Out

36. A Glimmer of Hope

37. Second Verse, Ain't Like the First

38. The Last Waltz

39. The Fall

40. Bye-bye, Caddy, Bye-bye

41. Central Booking

42. Don't Call It a Comeback

43. You Can't Go Home Again

44. You Really Can't Go Home Again

45. To the Edge of the World . . .

46. . . . and Back

47. So Much for a Hero's Welcome

48. Dear Dad


Where Are They Now?

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