It was never going to be bright lights for Maliek White. The unsung point guard rose to prominence at a time when his home state of Virginia featured immense talent, as did southern neighbor North Carolina.
Thus, the Richmond (Va.) George Whythe product would have to scrap for his own accolades. And scrap for them he did: White proved himself a worthy talent time and again with the River City Reign this past spring and summer.
I was able to watch him extensively for the first time at the David Rose Memorial Day Classic. White performed very aggressively there and set the stage for a big July, as multiple major programs set an agenda to watch him during the summer live period.
He initially picked up offers from Cincinnati and Boston College, then added Providence, VCU and Pittsburgh, among others. His play at the Under Armour finale as well as in Las Vegas solidified his place at the high-major level. He ultimately committed to Providence last weekend to give the Friars a prospect who fits the program both from a talent and cultural point of view.
White is a very quick and aggressive floor general who’s better described as a scoring guard than he is a pure playmaker. He loves to attack both in transition and in the halfcourt, where he boasts a fine first step and good shooting touch on the move.
He’s also a gifted three-point shooter. Many athletic scoring guards lack that dimension, but White confidently strokes long bombs with nice form and rotation.
His toughness always stands out as well. White is a fearless driver who relishes opportunities to draw fouls on opponents and, defensively, sticks his nose into high screen and roll plays to disrupt the dribbler. He’ll certainly please his coaching staff at PC with his effort and determination.
In terms of intangibles, he’s a winner and despite his scoring style definitely is not selfish. He understands the value of offensive balance, distributing to the hot hand and how to attack both man-to-man defenses along with zones — and of course it helps that he can call his own scoring number as needed.
White can be up and down in terms of shooting consistency, and at times I saw him careen out of control in transition. His turnovers tend to be reasonable but do balloon on occasion, although that’s typically the case with young guards.
In the Big East, he’ll have to change speeds more frequently and try to maintain a pace that he can sustain for 30-plus minutes. Thankfully, he has time.
White is a quick, tough, grind-it-out guard who doesn’t always play a pretty game in terms of stepbacks, crossovers and other fancy business, but he’s a gritty competitor who possesses legitimate major conference athleticism to accompany a dangerous jump shot. That combination should prove highly effective for the Friars.
Providence has thrived under Ed Cooley’s direction as a destination for point guards, and White thus should feel very encouraged about his chances given that Cooley has placed his floor generals into starring roles. White won’t arrive on campus with the reputation or expectations of a Kris Dunn, but he’ll certainly get his shot to become an impact player.
Where it goes from here is anyone’s guess, but White continues to climb and we’ve learned not to bet against him.