Posted On: 12/6/17 12:47 PM
Junior guard Malik Salahuddin has been the perfect addition to the Long Beach Poly basketball team.
The 6-foot-1 transfer from Mountain Pointe High in Arizona brings the kind of energy and focus to both ends of the floor that Jackrabbits basketball will be predicated on this season.
“I pride myself on playing defense,” Salahuddin told Prep Hoops So-Cal. “You can always control how hard you go and coach (Shelton Diggs) is all about playing hard and playing together. I love it; it’s a great fit.”
Salahuddin stepped into the Poly starting lineup soon after his arrival and his presence was felt immediately in fall league play.
The class of 2019 prospect can guard multiple positions, is a good defensive rebounder for his position and has the ball skills and basketball IQ to play both guard spots.
Salahuddin said it didn’t take long for him to buy-in to the way Poly operates and that’s because the Jackrabbits family was quick to embraced him.
“This team is really like a family,” he said. “We’re together all the time, during school and on and off the court. It shows when we play. I like the chemistry we have. I’ve only been here for a few months and I feel like I’ve been here all three years. Everybody’s been really welcoming.”
Salahuddin spent much of his time at running the point guard position for Mountain Pointe in his freshman and sophomore seasons, but with senior and four-year varsity player Darryl Polk, Jr. manning the one for Poly, he is taking making the most of playing off the ball and learning as much as he can in the process.
“I came in here knowing they have a starting point guard who is really good,” Salahuddin said. “I’ve learned a lot from him. The next step for me is controlling myself on offense and defense and knowing when to be aggressive.
“Sometimes you get so excited to play, you go too hard,” he added. “So Darryl has been teaching me how to slow down, relax and control the tempo of the game.”
One of the more exciting aspects of playing in Southern California for Salahuddin has been the competitiveness each and every game offers.
“Every game is competitive,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who you play, they’re coming to win. The fall league games feel like it’s the state playoffs. I can’t imagine what the environment will be like when we get to the playoffs.”
Salahuddin reports interest from Loyola Marymount, Cal State Bakersfield, BYU and San Diego, but no offers yet.