Over the beginning of the EMU men’s basketball season, junior Maleke Jones (Charles Town, W.V./Washington) has shined among the many returners.
Maleke was named the MVP of the recent EMU Tip-Off Invitational, where he helped the Runnin Royals to wins over Methodist University and Gallaudet University.
In the 99-75 win over Gallaudet, Maleke tied an EMU record by sinking eight three pointers. He finished the game with a career high of 28 points. His previous best was 19 points. The guard also had a career high with five steals against Methodist.
“I feel like I had a pretty decent performance this weekend,” Maleke said. “It felt really good to tie the most three pointers made in a game record that DJ holds.”
Over the weekend, Maleke averaged 21.5 points and 3.0 steals per game.
“Some of the strengths that were shown (displayed) the team we can actually be,” Maleke stated on the overall performances from the Tip-Off. “It all starts on defense and the second half on Saturday, we showed how good we could be on defense. That will take us where we want to go.”
Maleke played a significant amount in both his freshman and sophomore seasons. Towards the latter half of his sophomore year, he was hindered by an ankle injury, but has bounced back with force.
“Coming off of that injury was very tough,” Maleke explained. “Throughout the offseason I committed a lot of my time doing lower body lifting, trying to get the strength I had in my ankle back. When the injury happened, I wasn't nearly as explosive as I once was, but through time and commitment, I regained it back.”
The comeback has been seen at a high regard, with his points per game at 16.0 in the early part of the season. His shooting percentage outside the arc is also impressive, coming in at 42.3%.
Maleke has set the goals high for his team and himself, looking to bring the experience to play and make a run at an ODAC title.
His main goal of an undefeated season was ended early, with their first-game loss to Mary Washington, but he pays tribute to that game as being what may help this team in the long run.
“That was a great wake up call, and told us not to sleep walk into a game like that,” Maleke added.
With Maleke being one of the upperclassmen on the team, he puts himself into a leadership mentality to help the team carry a run throughout the course of the season.
“Personally, I feel like I'm going to need to have my best game every game for us to do what we are expecting to do this year, which is win the ODAC and go to the NCAA tournament,” Maleke stated. “I'm going to need to continue to push everyone every day in practice to get better.”
-- by Jake Brown, Sports Information Intern