Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber completed his 2014 recruiting class on Monday with the signing of Top 100 high school prospect Malek Harris (Orland Park, Ill. /Sandburg).
Harris is the third player to sign with the Wildcats this season, joining Tre Harris (Edwardsville, Ill./Fishburne (Va.) Military Prep) and Stephen Hurt (Murfreesboro, Tenn./Northwest Florida State Junior College), who both signed on the first day of the Fall National Signing Day in November.
“We are excited about the addition of Malek to our program,” said Weber. “To get a player of his quality this late in the signing period is a real nice pick-up for us. We recruited him early then when he opened back up his recruitment we had the opportunity to get back involved with him. He is a really nice complement to Tre (Harris) and Stephen (Hurt) to complete our recruiting class.”
A 6-foot-7, 200-pound forward from Orland Park, Illinois, Harris played at Sandburg High School for head coach Todd Allen as well as for the Illinois Wolves of the Under Armour Association (UAA) circuit for head coach Mike Mullins. Among the many alumni of the Illinois Wolves are current Indiana Pacer Evan Turner, former Southern Illinois standout Bryan Mullins and Illinois players’ Sam Maniscalco and Demetri McCarney.
“Malek definitely gives us an athletic and versatile forward to help replace Shane (Southwell),” said Weber. “He also provides some depth to help Nino (Williams) and our bigs. His athleticism and length give him the opportunity to play several different positions. His strengths are his ability to guard and rebound, but he has definitely improved his perimeter skills and can now facilitate and bring the ball up the floor.”
A Top 100 national recruit by most recruiting services, Harris is rated as the No. 80 high school prospect in The Rivals 150 by Rivals.com and No. 94 by Scout.com and 247Sports.com. He is also regarded as a Top 35 small/power forward prospect nationally, including 19th by Scout.com, No. 24 by 247Sports.com and No. 32 by ESPN.
Harris is a consensus Top 10 high school player in the state of Illinois, including ranking seventh by both ChicagoHoops.com and 247Sports.com and ninth by ESPN. He is among seven Illinois high school players ranked in The Rivals 150 by Rivals.com, including No. 1 Jahlil Okafor (Duke), No. 4 Cliff Alexander (Kansas), No. 21 Tyler Ulis (Kentucky), No. 26 Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State) and No. 50 Paul White (Georgetown).
Harris averaged 17.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists as a junior in 2012-13, as he helped Sandburg to the Class 4A Regional Semifinals. He helped the Eagles win 10 of their last 17 games, including upsets of Sheperd and Homewood-Flossmoor in the state tournament. He scored a team-high 17 points in a 71-68 victory over third-seed Homewood-Flossmoor to advance to the semifinals. Among his many highlights as a junior included a 24-point, 10-rebound performance vs. Rich Central on Jan. 21, 2013.
“I am just so excited to be heading to Kansas State,” Harris told Joe Henricksen of the Hoops Report. “From the moment they started recruiting me again they provided me with facts and details in showing how I fit into the program. I wanted to know, ‘Would I fit perfectly into the situation I would going into?’”
Harris chose K-State over multiple scholarship offers, including Florida, Gonzaga, Marquette and Virginia Tech.
“I want to win. That’s what I play for – to win,” Harris continued with Henricksen. “I want to be the player that makes plays to help a team win. I have a chance to do that at Kansas State. I get to go play for a great coach in Coach Weber and a really good young team that’s ready to win now. I trust the coaching staff will be there to help me grow as a player and person.”
Harris will join fellow signees Tre Harris (no relation) and Stephen Hurt, who both enjoyed solid years in 2013-14.
Harris helped Fishburne Military School (Waynesboro, Va.) to a 25-7 overall record and their first-ever No. 1 ranking this past season en route to a trip to the National Prep School Championships in New Haven, Conn. He averaged a team-best 19 points per game for the Caissons, which had seven players sign Division I scholarships. He spent one season at Fishburne after a four-year career at Edwardsville High School in Edwardsville, Ill.
The Florida Junior College Player of the Week on Dec. 3, Hurt helped Northwest Florida State Junior College (Niceville, Fla.) to a 22-6 record and a No. 21 ranking in the NJCAA Top 25 poll. Despite an injury-plagued year, he was named honorable mention All-Panhandle Conference after averaging 8.2 points on 51.5 percent shooting with 4.8 rebounds in just 15 minutes per game. He recorded three double-doubles during the season, including a 29-point, 11-rebound effort vs. eventual NJCAA national runner-up Indian Hills Community College on Nov. 30.
The trio joins a Kansas State program which is coming off yet another stellar season in 2013-14. The Wildcats collected their school-record eighth consecutive 20-win season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight season with 20-13 overall record and 10-8 mark in Big 12 play. The squad has earned mention in several early 2014-15 preseason polls, including those by ESPN.com (No. 25) and Bleacher Report (No. 18).
The Wildcats are expected to return nine lettermen, including five players with starting experience, in 2014-15 to go along with Division I transfers Justin Edwards and Brandon Bolden. The group is headlined by All-Big 12 Second Team selection Marcus Foster (15.5 ppg., 3.2 rpg.) and honorable mention pick Thomas Gipson (11.7 ppg., 6.5 rpg.). Overall, the team returns more than 70 percent of its scoring and 65 percent of its rebounding.