For a season where the Syracuse Orange (16-13) have underperformed, at least for what Hall of Famer head coach Jim Boeheim is used to, there were still some bright spots that the team and fans could look forward to. One of them is none other than freshman Maliq Brown. He spends most of his playing time at power forward standing at 6-foot-8. What noticeably stands out about the freshman is his athletic abilities and defensive instincts, which makes him able to guard all five positions on the floor.
A lot of his physical attributes were developed from playing football. The sport is actually a part of his DNA still to this day. His dad, older brother and cousins all played football. Before making a full transition to basketball in high school due to injuries, Brown aspired to be in the NFL one day and he glorified players like Michael Vick.
Brown’s football skills were on full display this season, which explains that bolting speed to beat everyone down the court in transition almost every time there was a fast break opportunity. The freshman has a high motor and it was felt even when he did not have plays drawn up for him. Whether it was his hustle running in transition, put back opportunities, rebounding, setting screens or playing defense, the forward always made an impact. These are the little things on the court that other players love to play with, but hate to play against. It’s also the things that may not show up in the stat sheet.
It was because of this, Boeheim was left with no choice but to give the freshman more and more minutes as the season went on. Back in January after the Orange defeated Notre Dame, a contest where the versatile forward recorded 15 points and 2 blocks, Brown expressed to our James Szuba that he actually was “not expecting” to be getting the minutes he was getting after seeing a big jump in playing time.
Although Brown doesn’t need to attempt a lot of shots a game to be effective or make an impact, he manages to maintain a high field goal percentage. It’s currently at 69%, which leads the ACC. In his best scoring outing this year on January 21, he scored 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting versus Georgia Tech to go with 11 boards. It was the most shots he took in a game all season. Going into his sophomore season, it’s going to be interesting to see if his shot attempts go up, since there isn’t any good reason for it to not. Also, keep an eye on whether Brown adds the perimeter shot to his arsenal. He has not attempted one three so far in his collegiate career.