Did you know Malik Stith has transferred to a West Virginia school?
With the college semester underway for most - and as we prepare our preseason basketball coverage here at the Rumble - I came across that news about Stith moving on to the Fairmont State Falcons, a Division II team playing in the new Mountain East Conference, comprised mostly of West Virginia schools.
I missed the news, originally published in May, about the veteran "Pops" - named for his collegiately-advanced age on a roster of Division I newbies, the lone voice of experience on the Red Storm roster.
Good luck to Malik in his future endeavors. We'd wanted to know where he ended up, if he was really going to return as a graduate assistant or move on to join former St. John's assistant Chris Casey, as was originally rumored.
With a year of NCAA eligibility remaining, Stith, who left the Red Storm in the middle of last Big East season, moves on to a level where he is likely to see more time to flash his steady playmaking skills and the toughness that earned him a scholarship to St. John's in the first place.
Stith's departure from the St. John's program in February was a surprise to most, but his playing time had dwindled, despite being one of seven scholarship athletes on the roster who saw rotation time.
Malik Stith scored 1.9 points per Big East game, averaging 12 minutes per outing; following 21 minutes of burn against the Kentucky Wildcats, he struggled to get consistent time.
The Fairmont State Falcons coach is happy to get a Big East-experienced talent.
"He’s fearless," said Fairmont State coach Jerrod Calhoun, a former assistant under West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. "He wants to guard the other team’s best perimeter player. Offensively, he can do a lot of things too. He can really pass the ball, and he can make shots from the perimeter."
For a team that Coach Calhoun wants to be the "hardest working team in America," Malik Stith is a good leader.
Before last season, we thought Stith would not see much time with the Red Storm - since Lavin would want to give his young guards ample time to grow on the court. But he did show a steadiness and toughness; he stuck with the program even after it was clear that the staff would have helped him if he wanted to move on to another institution.
Stith stayed, playing more minutes per game (14.6) than he had in his previous years, and increased his three-point shooting percentage (to 23%) along with his two-point shooting percentage (to 43%). He was also a decent man-to-man and pressure defender for St. John's in 2010-11, especially in the finale of the Great Alaska Shootout, where he had 4 steals to go with 10 points and 3 assists against Arizona State.
He didn't try to play above his limitations. And he may be able to play the physical, tough drive-to-the-basket game he flashed at Bridgton Academy. Even back then, evaluations noted that he didn't have high-level athleticism, but lauded his aggressiveness and on-ball defense.
The Red Storm move on, with returnees D`Angelo Harrison (possibly the best returning Big East player on offense), a number of returning players with an offseason under their belt, a point guard in Jamal Branch for the second semester, talented newcomers in the post in Orlando Sanchez, JaKarr Sampson and Chris Obekpa, and some solid role players like Marco Bourgault.
Faster than usual, Steve Lavin's team has no holdovers from the previous regime's recruiting classes - this team is all Lavin's recruiting blueprint.
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