Shore League: Malick Kone

BELMAR, N.J. -- Originally from Guinea, West Africa, incoming Rutgers basketball freshman Malick Kone is literally an ocean away from his hometown. Kone, who is now enrolled in summer classes at Rutgers, played with many Scarlet Knights for the first time at the Jersey Shore League last Thursday. He spoke with about the experience and the next step in his long journey.

BELMAR, N.J. -- Malick Kone decided to move to the United States three years ago to follow his personal American dream. Kone, who move into his new home at Rutgers this week, said his dream for as long as he can remember is to play Big East basketball.

In five months, he very likely will.

"That was my dream, to play in the Big East," Kone said. "My dream is this close to coming true. It is very close. I can taste it."

Kone spent the last three years at Blue Ridge School, an all boys prep school near Charlottesville, Va. At Blue Ridge, Kone said he adjusted to the American lifestyle and built his grades up to attend college.

Kone verbally committed to Rutgers and coach Mike Rice Aug. 26 of last year and his anticipation built daily after that, he said.

"It's unbelievable when I look at where I come from and where I am now," Kone said. "I got here in 2008 and now in 2011, I've been here almost three years. I'm proud of myself and everything I did in high school to get here. It's very good."

Kone, who is one of nine Scarlet Knights on the Gutter Cleaners' roster for the Jersey Shore Basketball League, played with many of his teammates for the first time Thursday in the inaugural game.

"They are my brothers now," Kone said. "I am excited to be joining them. I used to play with [Greg Lewis] and Jerome Seagears, I played with him too.

"I feel like this is something I can't even explain. I have wanted this for the longest time. I'm very happy. I'm very excited to be here. I'm 100 percent ready to do this. I'm very excited to be here. I will help my team and get better. This is my dream."

Five of the seven in Rice's 2011 recruiting class enrolled more than a month ago. Kone said the early enrollees filled him in on life at Rutgers and they did not hold back.

"They say, no more rest," Kone said. "Every day, it's the same thing. You have to go hard. You have to work hard with going to class and in the gym. You go to sleep and then get up and work out again."

The work will not scare off Kone, however.

"I'm excited for this," he said. "Like my dad says, ‘what does not kill you makes you stronger.' I know that's going to make me a better player. The school will make me a better person. I am ready to learn."

After his first game in the Shore League, where he started at the three and scored nine points, Kone admitted that he needs that strenuous schedule to be ready for college basketball.

"I have to work out," Kone said. "I have to improve my intensity and I think I will succeed when I join the team.

"It's different from high school. There is more contact. The guys are strong. I think I need to work out to get bigger. I want to get better. I sometimes had an open shot and passed because I was not ready to shoot. I want to build chemistry with the guys."

Seagears on Kone: "[I am] Definitely excited to complete the group. He's a great player. Once he gets in the system and understands what we're about, man, he's going to be great."

Myles Mack on Kone: "He's pretty good. He's a good asset on this team. He's good to be around and better to play with."

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