Malik Hairston, 6-4 SR SG, Detroit (Mich.) Renaissance, said that he'll visit UCLA August 28-31 and then Ohio State on Sept. 6, although he said the Buckeyes plan had not been totally formalized. Regardless, expect him in Columbus that weekend.
Can we read into the situation and take a leap of faith by saying UCLA and Ohio State, by virtue of landing visits, have a lead? "No, not necessarily," Hairston said. "They were more aggressive with the visit dates so they ended up getting them. Ohio State was the first to call in and gave me time to discuss it with my family. That's when Kansas and other schools started to discuss it."
OK, so the Buckeyes and Bruins had dates on their calendars that they were able to sell to Hairston early. They've also got a pair of Detroit natives on the staffs at each school and that's a bonus.
"It's very important. It's actually an edge that they do have on other schools. I knew them before they went there. I know Coach Zeigler [UCLA] but I wasn't as familiar with Coach Stone [OSU]. That's an advantage they have."
Hairston's school list now includes UCLA, Ohio State, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Virginia Tech and California. What do the Golden Bears have that only OSU and UCLA have? You guessed it, an assistant from Detroit. Lorenzo Neely is the Cal assistant with Detroit roots.
Could Hairston commit after taking just two visits? "I really don't know. Say I go on one of these visits and love the school. I might do it. But, I don't know how likely that is. There's a possibility I might sign after the season. That might eliminate some of the schools who might not wait that long."
Ah, the spring signing period. What Malik just said, without actually saying it, is that he could make more visits during the basketball season and sign late. "It's a lot of confusion right now. I want to get it out of the way but it doesn't look like it'll be happening anytime soon. I want to take some visits."
Hairston said that if it was just a matter of having three schools remaining and setting up dates with those schools he would have done it already. But, he's got more than enough candidates for the last three visits. The big question is now: Will he take the final three visits and what is the chance that he doesn't?
"Slim to none," he said. "I really want to see what other schools have to offer. I know these schools offer great situations and It'll be fun and a good experience but it's too important of a decision. I'm just going to take my time. I'll get guidance from Coach Walker, Coach White and my father."
Part of Hairston's recruitment now is that it's much harder than he anticipated. "[Before the spring] I hadn't even been recognized a lot so I didn't know how many schools would be after me or what major schools. I guess they started to see what I can do basically. They didn't see it before; I guess I didn't have the physical aspects they liked. I can't hold it against them."
Malik Hairston is a cornerstone recruit for a handful of programs. He's the kind of player who turns a good recruiting class into a great one. He's worth the wait. The issue with waiting is that college basketball, especially recruiting, is not a patient man's game.