It’s been a while since Buzz Williams hauled in a true switchable, but 6-foot-7 Malek Harris, who gave an oral commitment to Marquette during his unofficial visit Wednesday, is exactly that and a perfect fit for the Golden Eagles.
Harris had been on Marquette’s radar for some time and lead recruiter Isaac Chew, using his connections with Harris’ AAU team, the Illinois Wolves, seemed to have the inside track from the start. This summer the Orland Park, Ill., native had seen his stock increase, and offers poured in from the likes of Auburn, Creighton, DePaul, Purdue, Kansas State, Northwestern and Missouri, among others.
We’re waiting on a call-back from Harris, who is still on campus taking in Buzz’s BBQ, but it’s a sure bet that his unofficial visit went extremely well considering less than a month ago, Harris said he would wait until the fall unless he was totally blown away by a school.
“Right now I’m all over the place with it. I’m still pretty open. Unless I visit a school before the fall and just feel like that’s it, I’m just going to wait until fall,” he told PowerMizzou.com’s Brian Austin on May 31.
Now that Harris is on board with Marquette — and will sign in November — it marks a return for Williams back to his roots with a player a few scouting services have described as a high-motor, long, athletic forward who is growing on the offensive end and able to play multiple positions defensively.
Not since Juan Anderson in the 2011 class had Williams been able to snag — or maybe more accurately, pursued as diligently — a perimeter-based switchable. At 6-foot-8 Steve Taylor (2012) is more of a power forward than anything, but he won’t be defending many small forwards as much as he’ll be battling inside, especially when Chris Otule and Davante Gardner graduate next season.
With Juan Anderson making a shift to the backcourt, Deonte Burton playing more of a Darius Johnson-Odom-like “three-guard” and Jamil Wilson exhausting his eligibility by the time Harris arrives on campus, Harris immediately becomes Marquette’s truest three-four switchable, a player who will shift between the frontcourt and backcourt.
Not only that, Williams may have found a diamond in the rough in Harris. That’s easy to say about any 6-foot-7 player with high-major Division I offers, but an injury cost Harris the first half of his junior season (11 games to be exact; Sandbug H.S. lost all 11 of those games) and this summer had been coaches’ first real chance to see him in action. Currently ranked as the no. 120 prospect and a three-star prospect in the 2014 class, per Rivals.com, Rivals’ Eric Bossi said Harris was already on his way to a top-75 and four-star status when the website’s next rankings came out.
It’s hard to project what the roster will look like a year from now, or where Harris will be physically, but with Wilson out of the picture at small forward and the “Oxtule” duo gone, minutes are available in the frontcourt. Junior-college forward Jameel McKay will be asked to anchor the frontline along with Steve Taylor in 2014, and given the uncertainties on how the rest of the 2014 class will fill out, Harris’ arrival will help in allowing Williams to use different lineups while interchanging Harris’ position.
Stay with PaintTouches.com throughout the night and the rest of the week for updates on Harris and quotes from the newest Marquette Golden Eagle.