Ohio State commit Malaki Branham earned some high praise on Monday from SI All-American, as he was recognized among the 50 best high school basketball players in the country this year. That means Branham is a finalist for the SI All-American teams, which will be named in April.
The list of 50 players is comprised of 45 seniors and five underclassmen. Branham is the only Buckeye commit on the list.
Branham is a 6-foot-5, 180 pound senior from Akron (St. Vincent-St. Mary high school). He's leading the No. 1-ranked team in OHSAA Division II basketball this year as they try to win a state championship. Last year, SVSM won its district title, but never got a chance to play in the regional semi-finals (Sweet 16 of the state tournament) because the pandemic shut down the tournament.
Last year as a junior, Branham scored more than 20 points per game with seven rebounds per night. SVSM was 20-4 when the season was suddenly ended. He was also a meaningful contributor to the 2018 SVSM state championship team during his freshman year and 2019 state runner-up team during his sophomore season.
“Malaki is playing at a very, very high level and his confidence is soaring,” SVSM head coach Dru Joyce II told the Akron-Beacon Journal back in December, when Branham was first nominated among the top 99 players in the country. “He keeps getting better and better and he understands what it takes. He is very mature and takes care of his body. He is doing things that a lot of guys, you have to tell them to do from a coaching standpoint, but with him, he understands doing those things such as taking ice baths after practice and making sure that he is fit and ready to go.
“Skill-wise, he is continuing to work and get better at all of those things that are going to make him a great player at the next level. His shot has gotten better, he is stronger and he is more athletic.”
Here is a link to Branham's SI All-American evaluation page, where they praise his athleticism and instincts in particular.
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