Syracuse extended an offer to 2022 power forward Maliq Brown in February. Brown, a 6-9 forward who stars at Blue Ridge School in Virginia, also holds offers from Georgetown, Penn State, TCU, Texas A&M, VCU, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and several others.
AllSyracuse.com spoke to Blue Ridge head coach Cade Lemcke to find out more about what kind of player Brown is and where things stand in his recruitment.
"He's one of these long, lengthy power forwards that covers a lot of space with their wingspan and with their ability to rebound outside their area," Lemcke said. "Their ability to contest shots. Maybe not all that different than like a Hakim Warrick. In the zone, especially on the wing of that zone defense, can cover so much area and then also he has very high defensive IQ. So his ability to get deflections and block shots on the backboard when people aren't necessarily anticipating it. Because of his defensive IQ that he can cover that ground and use his length to either deflect the ball, block the ball and then obviously to get rebounds.
"Syracuse doesn't press a ton although it seems like they're pretty successful when they do press. He's very gifted being at the top of a press defense. Whether he's guarding the inbounder and then looks to trap. Or stunts and doesn't trap right away but forces a team to pass over someone with crazy wingspan, he's very gifted on that end. Offensively, you don't need to run play for him. He knows how to use the rim to protect himself. He knows how to use pump fakes and to score around the basket with either hand. We do not need to run plays for him and he still ends up scoring because he just knows how to work the shot corner. He knows how to space when a guard is driving to create an angle to get a pass and finish. He just knows how to score around the basket.
"What's been the most impressive over the last year is that he's added the perimeter shot to his arsenal as well. He hit a few threes this year and looks more and more confident shooting the ball from out there. So now if you have a pick and pop situation, or a trail four situation and they reverse the ball to him, he can be a threat to hit the outside shot. The reason why so many players love to play with him is that he's humble, he doesn't need plays run for him, he's a very willing screener, he's very willing to make up for other guys' shortfalls on the defensive end. He runs the floor really well. He finishes on the break. But I do see a lot of Hakim Warrick in him. He continues to just get better and better.
"He came to us as a 6-4, football first basketball second quarterback, wide receiver. Then he grew to 6-8 and is up to 6-9 right now. He's retired from football, but that understanding of spacing, the development of his hands, that has helped him on the basketball court."
SYRACUSE OFFER & INTEREST
"He was very excited about the Syracuse offer," Lemcke said. "He grew up in ACC country so getting an ACC offer like Syracuse, who has a rich tradition, he was excited to see that. Obviously I know the Carrier Dome growing up in (Rochester) New York and having gone to games. He has no idea, outside of watching a couple clips on TV, of what that atmosphere is like. Hopefully we get through this pandemic and he's able to take a visit up there and see it for himself. I think he'll be even more impressed with the facility and the crowd and the support that Syracuse basketball gets.
"He was excited. He really likes coach Mac (Gerry McNamara). I think he can see himself fitting into the way that they play on both ends of the floor. Certainly a real option for him and one that's excited about."
THE JUSTIN TAYLOR FACTOR
"He and Justin are really close," Lemcke said. "Justin loves playing with him because Justin wants to fill it up and get shots. He knows that Maliq is very willing to set screens, to make the extra pass and it allows shot takers and shot makers to really be successful.
"They don't have to play together by any stretch of the imaginations. But I think if one of them decides on a school, I think that would be helpful for the other one. They played together on the AAU side back when they were ninth graders, and they really enjoyed playing together.
"I could see them really enjoying playing together at the next level as well. I don't think they're going to make a decision together, but I could see if one of them makes a decision before the other one, that school could be helped by that player in terms of convincing the other one to come on board as well."
WHAT IS HE LOOKING FOR AT THE NEXT LEVEL?
"He wants to win," Lemcke said. "He's going to be at a school that has a chance to win. Whether they have already been a winner or he feels his addition to the roster will help them win. That would be big for him. The other thing that will be big for him is a family atmosphere. A very close knit family. Here at Blue Ridge, we really emphasize the family side of our program. I think that will be a big thing for him is being a part of a family. I think he'll see that as he takes visits and as he gets to know the coaching staffs and players on the teams. He'll get a good feel for which teams are genuinely really close and he'll be drawn to that type of program."
"He will make a decision before the season starts next year," Lemcke said. "He's not going to draw things out and all of a sudden want to wait until the spring of his senior year. He has seen a bunch of his teammates over the last few years make those decisions early, and then be able to play their senior year and focus on winning. Not having to worry so much about who's watching, what's my recruitment like or what's happening. I think he will make a decision before the early signing period. I do not think he will make a decision here in the spring without, at the very least, getting to know the staff better. Ideally taking visits."