(PHOTO: COURTESY OF HALL)
When you watch Michigan State 2019 signee Malik Hall play, it’s not hard to see what made him such a coveted recruit as he showed the ability to be a dominant player at both ends of the floor, but another aspect that stands out is his leadership, both on and off the court, which surely caught the eye of Tom Izzo and the Spartan coaching staff.
Hall, a 6-foot-7, 210 pounds 4-star recruit out of Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kansas, was Michigan State’s first 2019 commit and signed with the Spartans back in October, choosing the Green and White over offers from Oklahoma, Oregon, Purdue, Butler, California, Iowa, Florida State, Memphis, Minnesota, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Texas and Wisconsin.
Spartan Nation recently spoke with Hall about his recruitment and what he feels he can bring to the Spartans, and when asked about his leadership qualities, he credited his parents and his basketball coach.
“Honestly, it’s mostly my parents,” he said. “They’ve done a great job of raising me and teaching me how to show people the right way to do things – and not necessarily always being like I know everything – just being able to show people the aspects that I know that they may not know. My mom always says you don’t know what you don’t know and that’s very true, so I try to help my teammates by not being too overwhelming or too in their face. I think that not only did my parents help me, but Sunrise helped me with that quality. Coach Lucas is really good at developing players, and he did a great job with me, he needed me to be the leader even though I wasn’t always the oldest guy, but you always need somebody on the team to speak up, and I think he did a great job of pushing me to reach outside my comfort zone and become that leader.”
Hall spoke glowingly of both of his parents and the way they raised him throughout his childhood as his dad was a coach when he was younger but unfortunately was diagnosed with dementia when Malik was just nine years old.
The Wichita native said that along with teaching him the game of basketball, his father instilled the importance of being a good person and not just a good athlete and added that after his father’s diagnosis his mother did a lot of “heavy lifting” in his life and his upbringing and added that his faith also has quite a bit to do with his character.
“When I was a lot younger, my dad was a coach and he always just preached to me about being the best person,” he said. “He got sick, he has dementia, so we weren’t as close as we used to be when I was younger. That happened when I was nine, so my mom’s really been doing the heavy lifting for me since that point, and she harps on with treating others with how you want to be treated. I come from a Christian household, so the Lord has a lot to do with how my character is and how passionate I am toward other people and how loving I am.”
When it comes to his faith, Hall admitted that going to Sunrise Christian helped open his eyes and he became much stronger in his faith and added that the fact that several members of the Michigan State team are strong people of faith did play a role in his decision to choose the Spartans.
“It is a major part,” he said. “I didn’t become super close with the Lord until I went to Sunrise. So them instilling that in me and having a bunch of teammates who also believed, everyone on the team was believers. You can’t lose with Christ on your side, so that’s a major thing for me, I don’t think that anybody would be able to stop us if we have our faith in the Lord and I think a lot of great things can get accomplished.”
When it comes to what Hall can bring to Michigan State when he steps on campus and joins the program in the not-so-distant future, Hall said that simply his versatility and ability to do several different things on the court.
“I think the best quality that I bring to the team is probably versatility,” he said. “I don’t think I considerably do one aspect of the game well; I think I can shoot pretty well, I think I can attack the basket pretty well, my handles are pretty good. Leadership qualities, I’ve got them, I’ve had to lead several teams throughout the past two years. I think there’s a lot of different aspects to my game that I can bring to the game.”
It’s that versatility, and diverse skill set that Hall possesses that has drawn comparisons to former Spartan Draymond Green, who currently plays for the Golden State Warriors and Hall did note that Izzo did make that comparison with him, along with a couple of former Spartans as well.
As far as what he needs to improve, Hall said he’d like to add more consistency to his outside shot, even though he shot well over 30% from the field last year, but feels if he can improve that area of his game, he can become a dangerous player on the offensive end.
“A lot of people think I need to get a lot better, and I can agree with that because if I add that aspect to my game where I’m a knockdown shooter, it’ll change the game for me,” he said. “I’m pretty steady, I think I’m about 35% right now, and it’s something I’ve been working on a lot since the summer. A lot of scouts would always tell me if I get my 3-pointer right, I can be very lethal on the court. So I’ve been working on that since the summertime, and I’ve seen improvements – some games I would shoot 3-for-5, in one of my games, I went 7-for-8, so we’ve seen progress.”
While there are several different factors that ultimately drove Hall to sign with Michigan State, Hall said that the biggest reason was the expectations and the opportunity for him to put in the necessary work to consistently improve.
“Honestly, it was the expectations,” he said. “Work ethic and always getting better is a big thing for me. I’ve never been the highest guy in the rankings or anything like that for the most part, I’ve always earned everything and worked for it. That was a major thing for them; they said when you get here, you’re going to work, and it’s always about getting better and being the best player you can be, along with being the best person. For them, that’s really what the emphasized with me, if you want to be the best then you need to come to our school.”
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