The uncommitted Malachi Faison has seen firsthand what one big travel-ball season can do for your recruiting stock, and is determined to follow in the footsteps of Thomas Jefferson teammates Shamorie Ponds and Rasheem Dunn.
“I am in the same position [Ponds] was in,” said Faison, a junior. “Nobody was really recruiting him at that moment. He just made the best of everything. I see what he did, and I am trying to follow in his footsteps.”
Faison, an undersized 6-foot-5 forward, doesn’t hold a scholarship offer after leaving the Juice All-Stars to play with the New York Lighting. To get one, he plans on building off of a strong junior season with the Orange Wave — a season in which the school garnered its first city and state titles. He averaged 11.3 points and 14.1 rebounds per game.
He is at his best when he enters his “beast mode,” which Jefferson coach Lawrence “Bud” Pollard also calls bringing “the Brooklyn out” — when Faison plays with reckless abandon and aggressiveness on the boards. He did so while compiling 12 points, 13 rebounds, and five steals in the city championship against rival Abraham Lincoln.
“I feel like that is when I am at my best — as you can see at Madison Square Garden,” Faison said. “That’s when I was at my best, when I am in my gritty mood.”
Faison put his array of skills on display with the Lightning at the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal last weekend. He scored off the dribble, controlled the boards, and even sparked runs with his post defense. That versatility should attract colleges, according to Lightning coach Dana Dingle.
“I think a lot of coaches across the country will like him, because he is a blue-collar, hard worker,” Dingle said. “Whatever you tell him to do, he is gonna do. He is going to score around the rim. He is going to play defense. He’s going to get that loose ball. He’s going to motivate his teammates. He’s going to run through a wall.”
Next he needs to run through the wall separating him from a scholarship. Faison is trying to improve his ball-handling and shooting to make himself even more attractive to college coaches — and to ready himself for more responsibility at Jefferson next year, as the Orange Wave lost all three members of its starting backcourt.
“Our seniors are gone now, so we need a leader,” Faison said. “I got to do more. Every year you got to do more. I can just get my guard skills up and be tough on the glass and continue to do what I do.”
He knows how it has worked for others — there’s no reason it can’t for him.