Malik Boothe has lost time, but not hope
by Bryan Fonseca
Jul 20, 2016 | 21617 views | 0 0 comments | 752 752 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Over five years ago, Malik Boothe was in the middle of a history making time at St. John’s University. It was an improbable run that sent the Red Storm to their first NCAA tournament in nearly a decade, a feat few saw coming before the Queens squad began to knock off ranked team after ranked team at the turn of the calendar.

Against top-25 teams in 2011, St. John’s went 6-5, and eventually clawed their way into the prestigious national rankings before losing in round one of March Madness to the Gonzaga Bulldogs, finishing 21-12 and 12-6 in the Big East for the season.

After beginning the season as the team’s starting point guard, Boothe was later moved to role player status, which saw him get significant time while coming off the bench.

In 11 games as a starter, Boothe averaged 21.2 minutes per game, and off the bench he racked up 17.3 minutes per contest.

“That year was probably the most memorable basketball that I have ever been a part of because everything we envisioned when we decided to pick St. John’s as our school was coming true,” Boothe said of the dream season. “Over the course of our four years we really went from the bottom to being tied for third place in conference and ranked 18th nationally.

“If there’s anything I regret about my time there is that it took us so long to actually get it together in terms of winning and learning how to win,” he added.

Since then, Boothe has tried endlessly to parlay his basketball talents to the professional rankings, but to no avail as of yet. Boothe, 27, resides at an interesting point of his life, where he remains a free agent having yet to truly find his place in the basketball world.

At his age without a contract, plenty of other basketball hopefuls would hang up their kicks. As for Boothe, you’ll see him out here working on his game, slashing through the lane, hitting jump shots, suffocating the other team’s ball-handler – that’s Malik Boothe.

At 5-foot-9, he’s been defending bigger players his entire basketball life, breaking the will of plenty. Basketball is still who he is, and not just what he does.

“I haven’t gotten any opportunities to play anywhere professionally,” he said. “The one team I was signed to I didn’t make it out there because they had switched coaches in the middle of the summer and the new coach brought the player he wanted at my position with him.”

At the first ever Fightball Tournament held in New York City earlier this year, Boothe took down 6-foot-3 Serbian Dusan Bulut in the first round of a qualifier that would eventually determine which 16 players would do battle for $100,000.

Bulut was the number-one ranked 3-on-3 ball player in the world ahead of the tourney, according to FIBA, and the diminutive dynamo derailed him.

“When you step on the court, just be prepared for a dogfight,” Boothe told Fightball before the encounter. And Boothe, known as “The Pitbull,” subsequently out scrapped the Serbian-native for a 19-13 win.

Boothe eventually made it to the $100,000 tournament where he lost in the opening round to eventual champion Andrew “SpongeBob” Washington, 12-11.

Known for his grit and scrappy defense since his days at Christ the King High School, Boothe averaged 4.5 points and 3.1 assists per game while establishing himself as “the heart and soul of our team,” as once highlighted by former Red Storm head coach Steve Lavin.

As it stands, Boothe has yet to truly find his way professionally, but since graduating from St. John’s he’s managed to discover different avenues in an effort to remain in the game he loves.

“I’ve worked a couple of kids out, worked some events and basketball camps,” Boothe said. “All of those experiences have been great because it allowed me to do some things with what I enjoy.”

To date Boothe remains a local favorite among New York City basketball circles, and he continues to hone his craft in various tournaments and leagues in the area.

Along with the aforementioned Fightball tournament, Boothe has competed in several other leagues and tournaments. He currently participates in Nike Pro City as part of the Sean Bell All Stars, where he’s showcased himself to be one of the most effective players in a league filled with pro ballers who’ve had overseas experience.

With time not in his favor, his hunger hasn’t wavered and he still hopes to one day land a pro basketball contract, especially after coming so close once upon a time.

“I’m still chasing the dream of playing professionally and I feel I’m going to get a gig somewhere very soon,” Boothe said confidently.

Follow Bryan Fonseca on Twitter at @BryanFonsecaNY.
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