A 6’6″ small forward, Malik (Muh-leek) Smith flies high, so literally high I will henceforth refer to him as the Aviator.
Malik is a pilot and his love of flying drew him to UNC-Asheville. Imagine, Smith helps finish off Winthrop at Kimmel with a double-double that includes a few soaring dunks and follows up it by ascending the Blue Ridge Mountains on a flight back into Ohio to visit his family.
Also, the Aviator is a great nickname.
As part of this New in Blue series, I research as much information as I can find about new recruits to UNC-Asheville.
I’m happy to say I found this gem, narrated by Stereotypical Ohioan and Older Jeff Bridges:
Obviously, no one can garner tremendous insight from a single game, but I will share my first impressions of a younger Aviator.
UNC-Asheville has an intelligent, physical player in Malik Smith. This game features moments of great vision and passing coupled with moments of poor ball handling and shot mechanics. Typically, the Aviator’s offensive position is on the wing or near the top of key so he’s the ahead of any fast break when the ball rebounds. On defense, he’s closer in, though that is part of game plan against Lorain. While Smith averaged 9.3 rebounds per game as a senior, this video does not feature much of a rebound game. Finally, he’s great at switches and sticking to his man, but the little on-ball defense he plays is in transition where it’s easy to be out of position.
Overall, this is one game and the physical and intangible takeaways show brightly. I encourage you to watch a little bit and see what you think about Smith. Besides, who knows what the Aviator’s growth has been in the year and a half since this game.
But we agree on the nickname Aviator, right?