Malik Stith just got off the phone with Norm Roberts.
Coach Roberts asked his Class of 2009 recruit to fill him in on how the first day of classes went, as well as how the first team workout played out.
The newly-minted St. John's University guard explained that this type of workaday loyalty, from a coach who seems to treat his team like a surrogate family, played a significant role in his decision to attend St. John's.
Stith narrowed his laundry-list of potential Division-I suitors down to St. John's and La Salle.
He enjoyed a productive visit to La Salle and maintained a strong relationship with the coaching staff.
So, harkening back on the recruiting process, Stith said it was a tough decision to write off La Salle--a team which gave UConn a run for Jim Calhoun's money during the Paradise Jam.
South Carolina, who attended Stith's high school games as if they were season ticket holders, was also being considered by Stith and his family. They were an afterthought following Stith's visit to SJU.
After establishing himself on campus, getting all settled in to his new dorm room, attending his first few classes, and already joting down notes and cracking the books open, Stith has no regrets.
He says he is focused, excited and would not change his decision for the world. So, the 5-foot-11 freshman from Long Island will look to provide balance in the backcourt.
He has the build of a strong, waterbug guard. Stith also has solid handle and can slash with the best of them.
The kid sports a shallow mid-range sling shot and loves to snake along the baseline and take it to the tin on big men.
Stith played at East Mecklenburg HS in North Carolina, where he led the squad to a state championship his senior year.
A fifth-year player, Stith prepped at Bridgton Academy in Maine.
So, Roberts plucked Stith from the same venue as SJU starters Justin Burrelland Paris Horne.
Stith sat down with NBE Monday night.....
Q: During the course of high school your career, who did you like to get up to play for?
A: Man, my biggest rival in school would have to be Demontez Stitt. He's the point guard for Clemson right now. He was always tough, definitely the toughest guard I played throughout my career.
Seth Curry, from Charlotte Christian, he was another big matchup for me.
I remember, we (EHS) lost by four to his team in the best game I played in high school. I remember it was during the Christmas tournament. Tough loss. Seth played on my AAU team, the United Celtics. I actually just talked to him the other day...
He had a good year at Liberty. He said it was too easy. He's looking forward to playing for Coach K at Duke.
Q: Do you think Seth fell through the cracks a bit, recruitment-wise?
A: You know, he got hurt his senior year. He was playing on an injury. It was that
summer going into his senior year, during his AAU season, when he got injured. Bad timing. He was hurt coming up, so he didn't get the looks that he wanted or the looks that he should have.
Q: A coach who's been inspirational throughout your career?
A: Dom Ryan. He was my coach growing up. He groomed me, he taught me a lot... My father was really my first coach, but then he began to work with the younger group. So Coach Ryan was with me for most of my career. He's an older coach, so he's smart. He's been around and he helped mold me into the player I am today. He helped me get my IQ up.
Q: Why St. John’s?
A: Why not St. John's? (Laughs)
It was just a good fit.
My visit was lovely. It was a Friday, so campus was kind of live.
I got to see all the players and we all hung out. We went to the Garden, both Quincy (Roberts) and myself we watched the Jordan Brand Classic. It was a real nice time. We went and watched Omari (Lawrence) play, we were supporting him.
It was nice to be with the guys and support another future teammate.
Q: How did you narrow down your choices?
A: Over the course of the year. Around the Christmas tournament , Texas, Florida State were starting to call. I had some A-10 schools looking at me also. My intentions were to wait and see who was going to be loyal. SJU was loyal throughout everything...
Q: Your feelings on Coach Roberts?
A: Coach Roberts is a real players coach, a real down to earth type of dude. Off the court, you don't have to talk just about basketball with him.
You can talk about whatever, whatever's going on you can talk to him about. He'll listen, which is important. It's a good relationship to have with a coach.
Q: Your down by two points with five seconds to go, do you go to the cup and send the game into overtime, or go for the three-point dagger and end it?
A: Three-point dagger.
Q: What jams are in your Ipod right now?
A: (Candian rapper) Drake. All Drake songs.
Q: If you won powerball, how would you spend the money?
A: Take care of my family first.
Q: Favorite movies?
A: Above The Rim, 300, Little Rascals.