May 4, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT
FORT WAYNE, In. — Malek Harris was merely a blip on the high-major radar before the month of April, but thanks to the April live evaluation period, he’s now one of the hottest names in the midwest for high-major programs.
The new attention from the college coaches and the media has even become a bit of a new running joke for Harris and his Illinois Wolves teammates. Mid-interview, Harris’ coach with the Illinois Wolves, Mike Mullins, yelled across the floor to Harris, “C’mon, “Hollywood,” we’re all going to bed with or without you,” which elicited a big grin from Harris as his teammates roared with laughter.
After the week Harris had on the recruiting front, there is much to smile about.
Just this week St. Louis, Creighton, Oregon State, Marquette, Kansas State and Auburn all offered Harris a scholarship to go along with previous scholarship offers from Illinois State, Miami of Ohio, DePaul and Iowa.
For Malek, all of the new attention is exciting but he’s trying to keep things in perspective.
“It’s exciting but I think one thing that our coach stresses is to handle it the right way,” Harris said of the recruiting process. “I can be happy but I can’t be satisfied and I know I have so much work to do so right now I’m worried about working and getting better and helping the team win.”
Harris, a 6-7 forward from Sandburg High School in Orland Park, Illinois, has received a lot of high-major attention despite being ranked No. 120 in the Rivals class of 2014 national rankings. Harris’ ranking is sure to go up thanks to his motor, his rebounding ability and toughness. Harris is also developing some skills to play on the wing.
“I don’t know if I really have a strength besides my motor,” Harris said. “Everyone tells me I play really hard but I don’t really notice it because coach always tells us that if we don’t play hard you shouldn’t play, so I always try to play hard and make plays for my teammates and myself. My strength is making plays and doing whats best for the team.”
While Harris isn’t sure which position suits him best at the collegiate level, he still wants to make sure he’s rebounding and playing tough.
“I could see myself as a ‘2’ or a ‘3’ but I’m going to be all over the floor and hitting the glass either way,” Harris said. “Basketball is a grinder’s sport; you’re going to get little injuries and you have to play through them. If coach is going to let me then I’m going to play.”
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The fifth banner is now hanging in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
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