Malik Hairston’s performance in the Hoop Summit game may not have excited the average fan, but it certainly was exciting from a coach’s perspective.
Along with scoring 7 points in 19 minutes of play, the 6-foot-5, 190-pound shooting guard snagged 4 offensive rebounds, had 2 steals, blocked a shot and dished out an assist. Most impressive, however, was his defensive play and overall hustle.
One series plays in particular epitomizes what Hairston will bring to either Michigan, Kansas, UCLA, Ohio State, or Oklahoma next year. The series began with Hairston reaching nearly to the top of the square to cleanly swat away a lay-up attempt. The World Select team recovered the ball only to turn it over to Hairston as he hustled out to the sideline to steal a pass. While falling out of bounds, Hairston delivered the ball to a teammate igniting a fastbreak. He then hustled down the court to pickup a loose rebound and put the ball in the basket.
Hairston’s physical and mental effort appeared to be on another level compared to all the other players on the court. After watching him for only a few minutes, the question in my head was who coached this guy.
The USA team struggled early on in the contest containing the dribble penetration of the World team. Once Hairston replaced J.R. Smith, the defensive intensity picked up for the USA team. The ball just didn’t seem to find its way into the lane much anymore. Sitting court side, Hairston was the only player heard communicating on the defensive end.
Hairston, who is moving up to No. 7 in the updated Rivals150, simply had a stabilizing influence on the USA squad. He never forced a shot and made the quick pass to the open man.
It was refreshing to see a player do the things that truly comprise being a complete player, not so much in filling the stat sheet with blocked shots or assist passes but in not letting his man get a look for a shot or in making the quick pass that leads to the assist pass. It is nice to know Hairston can score in a variety of ways. It is even better to know that he can do everything else.
Look for Hairston to compete for a national championship and enjoy a successful NBA career. He is certainly the type of guy that deserves to have the best of both worlds.
When asked about the prolonged decision making process of Hairston, an assistant coach involved in his recruitment shrugged it off, noting that this is the way that everyone used to do it.
Hairston on the influence of his friend Jordan Farmar (UCLA) on his college decision: “I talked to Jordan, and he makes California seem like heaven.”