Back in August, I talked a bit about a local high school prospect named Malik Zachery, who just started his sophomore campaign at Nottingham. Malik has been slowly but surely developing a heck of a reputation in the area, and is starting to get a lot more exposure outside of Central New York as well. Four games into the season, he’s showing the kind of game that’s bound to bring him even more attention. I figured it was time to check in on how Malik’s fared so far this year for the Bulldogs.
After dropping their first game of the season to Cicero-North Syracuse 65-61 (a game in which, it should be noted, Malik was named his team’s MVP), the Bulldogs have run off three straight wins and have crept into the Syracuse Post-Standard’s CNY High School media poll at number eight, though the results used for that ranking don’t include a recent, dominant win over Central Square.
Despite being just a sophomore, Zachery has been establishing himself as the go-to guy and real standout for Nottingham, a squad that features several very talented young players. Yet when you watch the highlights, Malik is the guy that jumps out. For one thing, it’s hard to believe he’s only a sophomore because at 6-foot-1, he’s already got a pretty strong build, and shows outstanding confidence handling and passing the ball. Obviously, highlight reels aren’t going to show the turnovers, but the fact that he’s averaging 16.5 points-per-game for a team that’s ripped off three wins in a row is a pretty good indicator of how well he’s progressing.
But hey, how about I show you some highlights from a recent victory over Corcoran, in which Malik scored 18 points and handed out seven assists?
A couple things really jump out watching that highlight package, one of which is (as noted above) a strong, confident handle. Obviously it’s hard to judge a point guard’s command and ballhandling skills against regular high school competition, but for Malik’s age, he looks like a natural ballhandler. That’s a fantastic sign moving forward, as I don’t think there will be any question as he progresses through high school that he’s got the chops to take care of the rock against college competition.
He looks like he protects the ball nicely, he looks confident making passes, and at least in this particular highlight package, he doesn’t try to get too flashy or out of control and just seems completely at ease running his team.
A couple other things jump out in that video as well, as far as Malik’s scoring goes. The first one is that it becomes immediately apparent that he’s able to take the ball to the rack and finish with either hand. That seems like it should be a pretty basic skill, but even at the collegiate level, it’s kind of amazing how infrequently players will even attempt to score with their weak hand at point blank range. That doesn’t seem to be an issue for Malik Zachery.
Another thing that jumps out is his jumper, and specifically, Malik’s form. That’s a pretty textbook delivery on his jump shots, and his release is smooth out to the three point line. He also looks very smooth and confident at the free throw line, where again, he displays a fantastic stroke in the above clip.
We’ve still got a couple more years to keep an eye on Malik Zachery, and it’ll be interesting to see how his career and recruitment play out. He’s clearly got a lot of talent, and his skills look to be very advanced for his age. Based on his build, it doesn’t seem all too likely that he’ll grow a whole lot more (he’s well put together, and not gawky, so we can probably expect him to top out at about 6-foot-2 or maybe 6-foot-3). As long as he keeps improving his strength and quickness, he looks like he’s got a really good chance at becoming a high major recruit who could one day be suiting up for the Orange.
In any event, it’ll be fun to continue following Malik Zachery’s career, whether he finishes his high school days at Nottingham or winds up heading to someplace like Oak Hill or another “basketball academy” to really improve his stock and raise his profile on the national level. I know I’ll be rooting hard for him to have one hell of a career at the high school level and well beyond.
The thing to remember here is that this kid is still only a sophomore, and he’s already looking like a seasoned veteran with a skillset well beyond his years. He’ll be a fun guy to follow as he gets closer and closer to choosing a college.