Malik Hairston, a 6-foot-6, 175-pound small forward from Renaissance High School in Detroit, Michigan put on quite a show this weekend at the Nike Memorial Day Classic. The field was loaded with a lot of talent and he was one of several players that made a lasting impression.
Hairston and the rest of his “The Family” AAU teammates advanced to the Elite Eight of the Memorial Day Classic and looked poised to take the title. Their outside shooting carried them for most of the way, and it didn’t look like any team was capable of stopping them.
Along with Hairston, Joseph Crawford and Ronald Coleman give The Family a scoring punch that is effective from all areas of the court. All three players have the ability to drive to the basket, score from the perimeter or pull up for jump shots.
The Family doesn’t have a player taller than 6-foot-7, so they don’t have much of inside game. In tonight’s game against The Illinois Warriors, the shots weren’t falling like they had been and they couldn’t recover.
The Warriors played a zone that was extremely tough to penetrate and The Family weren't able to hit from the outside. They were down by seven with several minutes to go, but ended up losing the game in overtime. Hairston tied the game with a nice tip-in, but that’s as close as the game got.
As far as Hairston goes, his game is exciting to watch. He plays with a real passion and desire, which makes him that much more effective. On Sunday morning he scored 23 points and did so in a variety of ways. After scoring a meager three points in the first half, he exploded for 20 in the second and looked almost unstoppable.
Later on that afternoon, he was slowed after taking a knee to the back, but ended up scoring another 23 points and, to some degree, answered a few questions about his game.
“I try to work on every aspect of my game so I can be a complete, versatile player,” Hairston said. “I really like to mix my game up. I didn’t see myself struggling in the first half because I picked up three fouls.
“As far as my recruitment goes, Michigan State, Ohio State, Kansas, Arizona, Kentucky, Missouri and Indiana are recruiting me right now,” he added. “I’m taking the ACT on June 14th, so I’ll probably start taking my official visits next fall. I’m wide open right now. I just want to work on my game, get better and hopefully more schools will get involved.”
Hairston has a great outside game and a quick first step. He moves extremely well without the ball and is active inside the paint area. He has no problem battling for rebounds and challenges shots when he’s in the post area.
While Hairston is an outstanding player, he relies too much on his outside shot. His athletic ability, speed and quick first step give him the ability to attack the basket with authority. He demonstrated that several times this weekend, but he didn’t utilize it enough.
Much like the Illinois Warriors, other teams are going to play zone when they face The Family. If the outside shot isn’t falling, Hairston has all the tools necessary to penetrate the zone, which will help create good looks from the outside.
There is no doubt that Malik Hairston is going to be a player in the class of 2004. He’s got the game to prove that, but he would be an outstanding player if put the ball on the floor more.