ROCKFORD—Hannah Malcomson is going the basketball equivalent of 0-to-60 in 3.65 seconds.
Malcomson, a Hononegah graduate who played for Rock Valley College last year, announced her intention to attend Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, Ky.
She made her decision official on Christmas evening. She leaves for her new school on Saturday. She will begin practicing with the team Monday, when she could be eligible immediately.
Not bad for a player who is currently able to only practice dribbling and do weight work in her basement.
After Malcomson played a critical role on Hononegah’s first ever team to earn a trip to the IHSA state semifinals, Malcomson had a terrific freshman season for Rock Valley, where she averaged 17.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.9 steals for the Golden Eagles, who advanced to the NJCAA Division III Final Four before the season.
Following the season, Malcomson was named a first-team All-American, fueling her even more for the upcoming season.
After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Golden Eagles first postponed, then canceled their season. Once the news was made official, Malcomson went to work.
“I talked to my coach at Rock Valley (Darryl Watkins) and my coach with the Rockford Heat (John Penney) and told them to get my name out there,” Malcomson said. “When we got canceled, I just knew that I couldn’t sit out another season. Within a few days, I had about 25 schools get in contact with me. I had never heard of Alice Lloyd, but after researching them, I felt they were the best choice.”
Malcomson talked to not only the coaching staff, but also a few Alice Lloyd players.
“I thought that was important, because coaches will tell you what you want to hear a lot of time,” Malcomson said. “Players will be able to give you a better perspective on what’s going on. They play a style like coach Weibel did at Hononegah, and how we played at Rock Valley, so I think I’ll fit in really well.”
Alice Lloyd, an NAIA Division I program, has faced the same COVID-related issues as all teams across the country have: Postponements, cancellations and a lot of uncertainty.
The Eagles have played just two games, but have won them both.
“They hit a little rough spell last year, but for the most part it’s been a good program,” Malcomson said. “Their point guard is injured right now, and they want me to come in and be a combo guard for them, so I think it’s a great opportunity to continue playing.”
Malcomson will enter Alice Lloyd as a sophomore, with three years of eligibility remaining.
Although there are many things to look forward to in her new beginning, Malcomson said a return to normalcy will do her good.
“It’s been really hard to not do anything this winter,” Malcomson said. “This is the first time since third grade that I haven’t had a season. We were able to practice for a while, then that got shut down. Then we could gather in groups of three or four before that got shut down. When we got the zoom call saying the season was canceled, that was just another part of the roller coaster this year has been. I was looking forward to getting back to Rock Valley and accomplishing something we couldn’t last year, but that’s not possible now.”
Even the action that seemed painful at the time left a hole in her schedule that she wished was filled.
“Last winter around this time, coach Watkins had practice at 5 a.m.,” Malcomson said. “As much as I didn’t enjoy waking up at 3:30 to get to practice at 5, that’s something I really miss this year. Getting to practice, working with teammates, that’s a part of the routine that I wish I had back.”
Malcomson, who has attended Rock Valley beginning after her graduation from Hononegah in 2019, hopes to be immediately eligible on Jan. 3. But even if she doesn’t have the necessary credits to do so, she will become eligible on the first day of Alice Lloyd’s semester, which begins Jan. 12.
“Even if I’m not able to play any games between the third and the 12th, at least I’ll be able to learn their plays and get totally back into shape in that time,” Malcomson said. “I’m nervous, but at the same time, I’m excited to be playing basketball again.”