Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint.
By David Cordova
This is Part 8 of our sixteen-part series, “This is New York,” as we chronicled St. Raymond High School rising junior, Malachi Smith, as he talks about his game and his recruitment and playing on the Under Armour Association circuit with the New York Gauchos and playing in streetball tournaments such as the Dyckman Tournament.
Last season, the St. Raymond Ravens were on a roll and were one of the hottest teams in the CHSAA Bronx/Westchester Archdiocesan division, as they finished 20-7 on the season, and the also had a 14-game winning streak which lasted from December 29that Xavier until February 10that Monsignor Scanlan.
One of the reasons why the Ravens were successful last year was not only because of their young core, which was filled with sophomores and juniors, but also because of the one player leading the charge. From the beginning of the season, Malachi Smith was emerging as a leader and is now one of the best players in the CHSAA.
Now a rising junior, Smith is a player that is a quiet assassin on the court. He is never one to talk, but lets his game do the talking. It is the quiet toughness that has helped him get this far and continues to propel him even further today.
When asked what he wants to improve on in his game, he replied, “Mostly getting stronger, getting my weight up, getting more athletic and [be] consistent with my shot a little bit more. My weakness is taking a bump, I know I gotta get that down, but my strengths is my shooting, my IQ, especially knowing where I’m at on the floor.”
On what motivates him on the court, he added: “I just love the game of basketball, I do it for my family, my brothers, everybody, I just love it.”
A native of the Baychester section of The Bronx, Smith learned the game early from his dad, Elliot Rosado at a young age and spent many days and nights in the Baychester Community Center on Schiefflin Avennue, which is across the street from both the Edenwald Houses and Cardinal Spellman High School.
When asked about growing up in Baychester, he replied, “It’s hard, it’s tough. You know a lot of people there, they support me, they all got my support, I love it.”
When asked about Rosado, who is the founder of the Books & Ball organization that specializes in educating the youth through basketball, Smith replied, “He’s the one that put the basketball in my hand, he’s the one that pushes me the most and he’s my worst critic. I gotta make him proud.”
Whenever he watches NBA games, Smith emulates and models his game after players like Kemba Walker, Damian Lillard and Kyrie Irving. The one thing that he shares with the other three is that they are all small guards that do what they have to do to win.
And in growing up around the Edenwald Houses, he grew up around plenty of talented ballplayers from around the Baychester area. “Yeah, we got a lot of people, Daniel Dingle, Jason Boswell, my brother, ‘Scoochie’ Smith, you know, they all influenced me and helped improve me and made me who I am today,” he said.
The younger Smith got some great tutelage from his elder brother, Dayshon “Scoochie” Smith, who played his high school ball at the now-defunct Rice High School in Harlem and also at the powerful Putnam Science Academy in Putnam, Connecticut. In college, he led the Dayton Flyers to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including his freshman season, in which they went to the Elite Eight. Since his graduation from college, he has professionally overseas in Australia and Greece and in the NBA G-League with the Canton Charge, which is a minor-league affiliate of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
When asked about his brother, the younger Smith replied, “He’s my brother, he’s tough on me, he tells my good and my bad.”
Since he stepped into St. Raymond as a freshman, Smith made his mark on the court by being one of the key figures in leading the Ravens to a city championship on the freshman level. Last season as a sophomore, he made his mark once again, this time on the varsity level, as he was the fourth-leading scorer averaging 10.3 points per game and helped bring the Ravens to the CHSAA “AA” quarterfinals, where they would lose to eventual champions, Christ the King.
When asked about the brotherhood at St. Ray’s, he replied, “Oh, it’s good, we have a lot of people who come here, and they all come back to support us. They come back to tell me about our strengths and weaknesses and help me, so I want to help them get wins, too.”
On his sophomore season, Smith replied, “My first year [on the varsity level], Coach Lopez and the seniors, especially Jalen Reneau, helped me a lot. You know, I was the youngest on the team, he helped me, I played a lot, so he helped me a lot. I felt it was a good season.”
On the AAU circuit, he played very well for the New York Gauchos on the Under Armour circuit, as he averaged 9.3 points per game and raised plenty of eyebrows with his play. When asked about playing for the Gauchos, whom he has been playing with since he was a little kid, he replied, “We’ve had a lot of great players come out of there, so I’m just happy to be there. I just want to put another banner up and do good on this circuit and get some wins.”
Due to his play, colleges have been noticing him as of this spring. He now holds offers from schools such as Stony Brook, Iona, St. Peter’s, UMass and most recently, Robert Morris. Chances are, if his play continues to elevate, he will attain more offers soon.
When asked if there was one school on his list that he would love to attend, he said that it would be UConn. “Cause of Kemba Walker, that’s one of my favorite players,” he said.
When asked if the three-time NBA All-Star and a Bronxite out of Soundview was a big inspiration to him, Smith said, “Yeah, he is. Very big [inspiration]. Coming out of the Bronx, he’s very big.”
But this summer, when Smith wasn’t playing on the sneaker circuit, he held his own on the asphalt, in tournaments such as Dyckman, Top of the Hill, and Nike’s NY vs NY Tournament.
Back in June, at Dyckman, he matched up in a competitive game against someone who is also from the Baychester area and is one of the city’s best in Dashawn Davis, a recent graduate of Our Saviour Lutheran High School who will be entering his freshman season at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas.
During the game, both Smith and Davis engaged in a classic battle that many see on the asphalt or in playground tournaments on a daily basis, with trash-talking involved. In one sequence, Smith drove to the basket and was fouled and let out a roar. The crowd was excited and showed their approval with thunderous applause.
“Oh, that’s my brother, too,” said Smith of Davis, who is most commonly referred to as “Rams,” because of his strength, “We grew up together, we work out together, that’s my guy. We always know, when we step on the court against each other, we’re not friends, and that’s why we was going at it the other day.”
When asked about playing streetball, he replied, “That’s good, because I get to play against a lot of tough players, a lot of ranked players, top players in New York City, and it’s different from school and AAU, I just have more fun.”
On Saturday, Smith led Dyckman to the NY vs. NY championship and played well throughout the entire tournament during its seven-week period. On the Dyckman Tournament’s page, you can see a picture of Smith kissing the gold trophy.
Now that his junior season is approaching, he will be counted on to be one of the elder statesmen for the Ravens alongside seniors Gary Grant, Reggie Hudson and Luis Kortright. He also plans on having a major productive season.
“We’re going to get a lot of good wins, we’re going to get further in the season, you’re going to see all of my stats improve,” he replied. “I’m going to just stay in the gym, work every day and this upcoming season, get some wins.”
Last season was the introduction to many of Malachi Smith. This season will be the revelation of how special a talent he is.
Check out Part 9 on Wednesday, August 21st, as we will chronicle Kadary Richmond, who was recently recognized as Nike’s Player of the Summer, due to his play in the NY vs. NY Tournament, and was also a two-time city champion at Brooklyn’s South Shore High School, who will be doing a post-graduate year at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire and currently holds over 20 Division I offers.