Friday, January 13, 2017

No Scholarship No Problem For Hot-Shooting Farrington

Grind Session's Mustang Madness featured a slew of high-profile recruits, a talent pool akin to City of Palms (FL) or the prestigious Bass Pro Shops Tournament.

Yet in the Conrad Academy v.s. Wesleyan Christian game last Friday, which showcased a surplus of high-major prospects, it wasn't the five-star recruit or the Louisville target or the ESPN Top-30 forward who created the early ear-shattering racket.

Instead it was Conrad Academy's Malcolm Farrington, a 6-foot-3 193-pound two-guard out of West Palm Beach, Fla. Farrington arrived at TCA without the high-billing and heavy expectations and hyperbole, a sturdy catch-and-stick threat capable of finding starter's minutes.

Midway through the season, Farrington has been become both the unlikely third leg of scoring and the most unheralded piece in a prospect-encrusted lineup.

 He's the kid who packed on 15 pounds of muscle since October. He's the kid who puts as much extra hours in the gym, firing up shots, as he does the classroom (Farrington holds a 3.8 GPA and already has college credits).

He's also the kid who stood out in wins over SIAA foes Oldsmar Christian (18 points, 5-for-7 3FG), Potter's House (20 points, 6-9 3FG), and Tennessee Prep (18 points, five three-pointers) while other more highly acclaimed players were out there running scared.

 In the aforementioned matchup against Wesleyan Christian, one of the country's top-shelf programs, Farrington scored 24 points. He's been a stable piece in the guard heavy triumvirate which also included Luguentz Dort (Louisville, Florida, Baylor, Oregon, UNLV) and David Sloan (Bradley, IUPUI, Western Kentucky, Ball State).

A shooter of Farrington's magnitude has the ability to spark a run, lift the team out of an abysmal streak of ineptitude, and provide a major dagger during vital minutes. He possesses the classic shooter's mentality, where one 3-pointer quickly turns into two and his confidence balloons. A couple three-pointers in succession means the basket gets bigger and bigger, to the point where he feels like he's chucking baseballs into Lake Worth Beach.

"It didn't just happen overnight, it took me maybe three years to develop a good jump shot," Farrington said. "It was a lot of repetitions, a lot of hours in the gym with my Dad, and I just continued to improve over time."

With Dort's mountain-man like presence attracting double teams and David Sloan running the point with a savvy, Farrington has quickly transitioned to his niche as a knockdown man.

"There's a couple sets that coach has to get shots for me, I get shots for me. People will over help or somebody will kick to me while their driving, so there's a lot a way of different ways for me to get a shot. As a shooter, you always have to be ready 100 percent of the time. So I'm always ready."

And while he continues to stake his claim as one of the SIAA's most underappreciated threats, all a lack of a Division-I offer has done increased Farrington's everyday grind.

"Of course (not having an offer on the table)makes me hungry because one of my primary goals is to get a college scholarship and pursue the game I love at the Division-I level. Not everybody could get an offer."

Farrington continued, "I'm  just working harder just because of that. A free education and the opportunity to continue to do what I love to do, there's not much better than that."

The NCAA landscape has changed, to an extent over the years.

More so now than ever before, former student-managers and video coordinators are earning the title of "coach" and "assistant coach" without the actual coaching resume to show for it.

AAU hucksters also stealthily jump into the revolving NCAA Division-1 door.

Recruiting has never been an exact science. We live in a world where too many coaches become enamored with star power, which results in several overlooked players flying under the radar unnecessarily.

 All of a sudden, guys who were tasked with laundry detail several years ago are self-proclaimed talent evaluators and "experts," paid handsomely to bring in the talent they envision will best suit their program. They are entitled to knowing basketball and entitled to holding beliefs they feel will best suit the program.

"Malcolm is a pro-level shooter, like many of the players I've played against during my professional career," said Brad Traina, TCA's Director of Player Development.

"He has great work ethic and phenomenal attitude. Along with his high academic profile, he is very enticing to higher academic institutions. As he focuses on this summer and playing AAU basketball, rather than playing on the Virgin Islands 18U National Team--as he's done the past couple of summers) his recruiting will become significant. As he continues to increase his vertical explosiveness, he will have high-major Division-1 interest."