"Malik normally gets up at 4:30 in the morning and works out from about 5:15 to 6:15 most mornings," said Malik's dad, Horatio Webster, a former two-time All-SEC selection while playing for Mississippi State during the 1996-97/1997-98 seasons. "He's been doing that for about a year now."
Malik explains why he works when most people are still asleep.
"(My dad and I) had made it a plan that since I am going to have practice after school I wouldn't really have time to work out (individually)," said Malik. "So we decided to wake up before the sun comes up and work out before I go to school."
The drive behind the early morning workouts is partly due to the realization about how good he already is and how good he could become some day.
"I realized that I could do that (type work) when I started realizing how good I was," said Malik. "I was in the 7th and 8th grade when I realized that."
And being considered the number 1 prospect in his classification by at least two basketball recruiting publications is motivation as well.
"I look at that (being the number 1 prospect) as motivation," said the 14-year-old. "I want to stay number 1, so I continue working."
Because he is not able to drive a vehicle due to his age, his dad wakes up each morning and drives him to the gym. He also helps Malik fine-tune his game during the workouts.
"It's real good (to have Horatio Webster as my dad) because he's going to tell me what I'm doing good and doing wrong," said Malik, who is averaging 22.5 points and almost 6 rebounds per game for his high school team. "He's not going to tell me what I want to hear but what is true. I just take everything that he tells me and work on my negatives and continue to add on to my positives."
He talks about one particular negative that he feels he definitely needs to work on.
"My negative is what you saw out there in the fourth quarter," said Malik, whose team came up short in a 64-58 loss to Gadsden, Alabama prior to my interview with him. "If I'm not really scoring or anything else, I need to work on my facilitating skills, such as setting other people up and knowing where they score. It's a learning process for me, so I just have to continue working."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.