SALT LAKE CITY — University of Utah basketball legend Billy “The Hill” McGill has passed away at the age of 74.
The National Basketball Retired Players Association issued a statement Friday expressing “its condolences to the family and friends” of McGill.
On Saturday, Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak sent out a Tweet expressing his sorrow at McGill's passing.
"Feel very lucky to have spent time with Billy this past season and honoring him as member of Pac-12 Hall of Fame," it read. "Special player and man."
McGill led the nation in scoring with 38.8 points per game as a senior in 1961-62, earning All-America honors. He went on to become the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft, going to the Chicago Zephyrs.
On Feb. 24, 1962, McGill scored 60 points in a win over BYU in Provo. He made 27 of 38 shots (71 percent) from the field and six free throws.
As a sophomore in 1959, McGill scored 31 points in Utah’s 97-92 upset of second-ranked Ohio State and highly touted center Jerry Lucas. McGill was 12 of 23 from the field and knocked down seven foul shots. He also pulled down 17 rebounds.
Last March, McGill was inducted into the Pac-12 Hall of Honor at the conference basketball tournament in Las Vegas.
“Any type of recognition like that is great,” McGill said at the time. “ ... I love it and I’m glad they chose me.”
Prior to the ceremony, Utah athletics director Chris Hill praised McGill for being a very gracious man.
“We’re excited to have him represent us,” he said. “He’s one of the greatest of all time.”
McGill, who attended a Utah home game prior to the tourney to sign copies of his autobiography, said that Salt Lake City was like his second home. The 6-foot-9 forward-center out of Jefferson High in Los Angeles added: “I’ve always loved the people at Utah.”
McGill’s No. 12 is one of just seven retired men’s basketball jerseys hanging from the Huntsman Center rafters. Andrew Bogut (4), Arnie Ferrin (22), Danny Vranes (23), Andre Miller (24), Vern Gardner (33) and Keith Van Horn (44) are the others. The Utes also retired the sweater of former head coach Rick Majerus.
McGill played professional basketball for five seasons — three in the NBA (Chicago Zephyrs, Baltimore Bullets, New York Knicks, St. Louis Hawks and Los Angeles Lakers) and two in the ABA (Denver Rockets, Los Angeles Stars, Pittsburgh Pipers and Dallas Chaparrals).
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