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Default 08-14-2001, 12:02 PM

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Grant Hill is slowly working his way back to being an NBA player.

The Orlando Magic forward couldn't play basketball last season like the All-Star he used to be. A broken ankle, twice repaired by surgery, created doubt whether he could come back.

"I've been feeling really good of late, but at first I was wondering if I was as fast as I used to be," said Hill, who played only four games for the Magic. "I wasn't jumping too well and I couldn't even dunk a few months ago. Slowly it started to come, but I really had to work at it.

"Now, I'm doing stuff I haven't done in a couple of years. I'm dunking, I'm high up on the rim and I'm sprinting really hard. I don't know if it's because I've been out a year, but I feel young and energized like I was three or four seasons ago."

Hill made his remarks to Florida Today.

Though Hill's first public basketball game since the injury won't come until Aug. 24, when he plays in a charity game at Duke, he said his concerns are over. He's been working out twice a day for the past seven weeks and plans to begin no-holds-barred games of 5-on-5 this week.

"The doctor gave me the OK to go full-tilt at the end of June, and by the end of July I knew I was back," said Hill, who has averaged 21.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.3 assists for his career. "I'm not in the best shape yet, but I was able to tell myself, 'This ankle is going to be fine.'"

Hill has shrouded his rehab in secrecy. He's hired his own trainer and has been working out at the LGE Science Institute in Lake Nona rather than at the Magic's complex in Maitland.

But Orlando general manager John Gabriel and trainer Ted Arzonico have attended some of the workouts and feel Hill is on the path toward a full recovery.

"He's getting to a point now where he's doing more and more basketball drills, and he looks really good," Gabriel said. "We're excited because of the drills we've seen, he looks really good. But we've got to wait until he's back on the court [in training camp] before we can make the final determination."

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