Senior guard returns from Florida pilgrimage to lead the way for John Marshall basketball team

Feb. 6—ROCHESTER — Chan Malith went on a learning journey to Florida a year ago.

That journey led to this winter, when he is thriving with the John Marshall boys basketball team.

Malith started the 2022-23 school year at John Marshall and played briefly for the Rockets at the start of the basketball season. He then went to Florida, on his own, to attend a prep school in Bradenton, where he played basketball.

He used that experience to mature as a person and as a basketball player. At the prep school, he got to play against some quality competition.

"Florida helped me, playing at a different level, a different pace, seeing a whole different game of basketball, that helped me a lot," Malith said.

When Malith began the 2022-23 season with John Marshall, he was one of the team's top reserves and was more of a defensive player. In Florida, he worked a lot on his shooting and passing, and the extra practice and games paid off.

"I'm glad he's back," JM coach Jim Daly said.

This year Malith has developed into a lethal scorer for the Rockets and has improved his all-around game. Malith, a 6-foot-4 senior guard, is averaging a whopping 23 points per game. He also leads the Rockets in assists at 5.6 per game while pulling down 8.7 rebounds per contest.

"I like to attack space, create for my teammates, play good defense," Malith said. "I think that helps my team a lot, if I can just give the most that I can, and do what it takes to help my teammates get better."

Malith enjoys seeing his teammates play well and he has a great desire for the Rockets to do well. JM is having a solid season and is 11-7 after Tuesday night's dramatic 73-70 win at Century. JM is 10-4 in the Big Nine Conference. Malith had 16 points in the victory.

"I think we should have more wins, but how everything is turning out, I love it," Malith said. "It's going well. One of my biggest goals is to do well in sections. I want to get my team as far as I can."

Malith said when the Rockets are playing well, the players jell on the court and play with a solid team chemistry.

He said working hard over the summer helped him improve his play on the court and be a better leader off the court. He has also added maturity to his game.

"I think Chan's greatest asset is his competitive spirit," Daly said. "He's a very competitive kid and he wants to get better. He definitely has the drive to be really, really good."

Daly said Malith is very athletic and is a strong defensive player.

"I think my confidence level has been going up," Malith said. "For me, over the summer, I was working on the stuff that I wasn't used to doing. Because really in the past, I hadn't been on the court at the varsity level like I am right now."

Malith jumped out of his comfort zone last summer in an attempt to improve. He did some training at fitness clubs, but also played basketball against older players, including his brother, Dominic.

Dominic Malith is a former junior varsity player for the Rockets, who is 24.

"He was solid (in high school), but not as good as he is right now," Malith said of his brother. "So we get a lot of shots up together and he helps me with things that I need to work on and that helps me out a lot."

When it comes to his own ability to score, Malith has excelled at getting to the basket and either getting fouled or finishing at the rim.

"I have a really quick first step," he said. "And my size and my length, it kind of disrupts the defender.

"If I have an open three, I'll always take it," Malith added. "But I for sure like to get to the rack, that's where my money's at."

Malith has a desire to play college basketball and Daly sees that in his future.

"The sky's the limit for him," Daly said. "He can definitely play somewhere next year and I've enjoyed being his coach."

Malith has received an offer from Peru State College, an NAIA school in Nebraska. He has also visited Minnesota State University, Mankato, while Rochester Community and Technical College has also shown interest.

"That might be a good fit," he said of RCTC.