It’s hard to ignore. So far this season, it has been difficult for another player in the MCCAA to get a word in on Mott sophomore Malik Albert. His game is speaking for itself, these days, with every sentence and quotation ending in an exclamation point.
Albert is the silent assassin, killing them with coyness – but killing them just the same.
“That’s just my personality,” said Albert, who leads the NJCAA in scoring this season at nearly 30 points per game. “I’m not really full of energy at times, but I just love the game of basketball. I try to lead by example instead of being vocal; I just let my game do the talking.”
The effect of his nonchalance has been amplified in a big way this season. Since his freshman campaign, Albert has made significant improvements in nearly every statistical category. His scoring output has more than doubled, alongside a marked improvement in shooting percentage from the field and beyond the arc.
“I worked very hard this offseason trying to get better,” he said. “I’m putting in a lot of extra work still, actually. Knowing I was going to have to be a leader this year, I had to separate myself from a lot of people.
Mott’s hall of fame head coach, Steve Schmidt, said his leading scorer is just starting to see the return on his offseason investment.
“He’s a much more focused kid this year – much different from his freshman year,” Schmidt said. “He puts in more time working on his game than any other player we have. He didn’t work as hard as he needed to last year and just relied on his ability. He was inconsistent throughout the year. This year he has carried us offensively while other players are still trying to figure things out.”
And while many Mott fans quick to point out some similarities between Albert and former National Player of the Year John Taylor (still the school’s most prolific scorer), Albert said he models his game after a fellow Detroiter.
“I think my game is similar to Manny Harris,” said Albert of the former University of Michigan and Cleveland Cavalier shooting guard. “Even our body frames are kind of similar, very slim. We both shoot the ball pretty well and are very athletic.”
In this case, “very athletic” is as understated as the player himself.
“’I’ve been fortunate to have coached some great athletes; Doug Anderson and Alonzo Evans are two that come to mind,” said Schmidt, who has coached numerous high-major athletes during his tenure. “Malik is deceptively athletic. He’s not as explosive as those guys were, but he’s not far from them in terms of overall athleticism. I think with continued development that Malik could help quite a few programs at the mid-to-high major college level; programs from all over the country have contacted us. He doesn’t seem to let the recruiting distract him, though; he has unfinished business here at Mott.”
In the classroom and on the court, Albert is getting better every day. He understands that the prospect for a brighter future sits squarely on his shoulders, and that finding success is as much about hard work as it is talent.
“I’ve learned a lot of things about the game since I’ve been at Mott,” he said. “I’ve learned that nothing comes easy; if you want it, you have to go get it; you have to put in extra work to get better. One thing I think I have to improve on is finishing at the basket. Putting on more weight will definitely help me at the next level.”
The next level is where you’ll see Albert in the near future, adding another name to a long list of young men who have passed through Flint while chasing their dreams.
“We are seeing him mature and become another one of the guards that our program has consistently developed,” Schmidt said. “I really like coaching him. I think he feels that a lot of people back home (Detroit) don’t think he’s going to make it; that motivates him. He’ll prove those people wrong.”