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JuCo Malik Zachery Could Bring Pass-First Mentality to Cal

March 19, 2020

There are two things to know about Malik Zachery. He’s a winner and a passer. The 6-2 point guard from Syracuse, New York takes pride in playing hard and making his teammates better — traits that have led to turning the heads of a few high-major hoops programs. Currently wrapping up his time at Chipola College, a junior college in Florida, Zachery picked up an offer from Cal on Tuesday, March 17 and is ready to begin a more involved recruiting journey once the coronavirus-induced recruiting visit ban is lifted.

Zachery has played at many different places but insists each team he’s played for has been a winning one. Growing up in upstate New York, Zachery started playing young for the Albany City Rocks AAU team. Starting his high school career at Nottingham High School in Syracuse, Zachery transferred to West Genesee outside of Syracuse after two years and eventually ended up at Springfield Commonwealth Academy in Massachusetts for a post-grad year.

Lacking the credits to immediately play Division 1, Zachery went the junior college route despite holding multiple offers out of high school, mainly from Northeastern-based schools. He picked Chipola because of its solid hoops program and the small town of Marianna, which has a population of about 6,100. “It was a place where I could focus and just focus on basketball,” Zachery says.

During his freshman year, Zachery did just that. He averaged a whopping 5.8 assists per game with just 2.3 turnovers in 32 games — all of which Zachery says he started. He led the team to a 27-5 record and a top-25 record and was considered one of the best freshman point guards in the juco circuit. Zachery averaged 8.5 points per game while shooting 45.8% from the field.

Then in the fall before his sophomore season at Chipola, Zachery hyper-extended his knee. He worked back from the injury and back into the rotation but played minimal minutes in four games before ending his season with surgery on his right middle finger.

But Zachery has recovered quickly and says he’s back to 100% from both injuries now. “No problems in my finger and no problems in my knee,” he says. College recruiters seem to agree. Since the injury in December, Zachery has picked up nine Division 1 offers, including offers from high-majors Nebraska, Ole Miss, and Cal. 

First to reach out from Cal was assistant coach Marty Wilson. But recently, Zachery says, head coach Mark Fox has been in touch with both Zachery and his father. “They want me to come in and do what I do best and that’s run the show,” Zachery says.

With the graduation of Paris Austin, Cal certainly needs another floor general to relieve rising sophomore Joel Brown, who largely played backup to Austin last season. Zachery says Cal’s academics and playing in the Pac-12 are the two biggest draws to Berkeley at the moment, although he also said he wants to get to know the program and school a lot better.

“I feel like I could get a job anywhere having Cal on my resume,” Zachery reasons, also mentioning playing in a conference where guys he knows like Washington’s Isaiah Stewart, Nahziah Carter, and Quade Green and Oregon’s Chris Duarte, also a juco product.

So far, Zachery has used one of his five official visits to see Fresno State. He hopes to schedule his final four remaining visits after the in-person recruiting ban is lifted April 15, assuming it is lifted. At the moment, Zachery says he hasn’t decided which four schools will get his remaining visits.

As for his game, Zachery sees himself already as a floor general with a solid mid-range game. “I like to make everyone better on the court,” he says. “I love to be the leader. I love people looking to me to find the best option. I love having high assists and low turnovers.”

Working on his three-point shooting and adding weight to get to 185-pounds are what Zachery is currently focusing on. As a freshman at Chipola, Zachery shot 32.1% from three-point range. 

Zachery knows there is potential playing time available at Cal but also knows it has to be earned. “Obviously I have to work for everything and they're not just giving things away,” he says of a potential decision on Cal. “But I want to come in right away and try to play.” 

Wherever Zachery ends up, that team will get a player ready to work hard.

“Everywhere I go, I always bring the winning attitude. I’m a dog on the court. I bring that energy and try to get everyone else on the court playing an extra step harder,” Zachery says.

“If I came to Cal, I feel like I could do that same thing. Bring that toughness, that energy, and that fight to give the other players a boost. If I were to go there, I feel like we’d be a winning program because everywhere I’ve been, we’ve been a winning program.” 

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JuCo Malik Zachery Could Bring Pass-First Mentality to Cal

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