CORAL GABLES, Fla. - There was nothing left for Maalik Wayns to do on this trip to South Florida than have some fun, especially on the basketball court, and that's precisely what the Roman Catholic High senior did last night at the BankUnited Center.
Wayns started at point guard for the East team in the 32nd annual McDonald's All American High School Boys Basketball Game, broadcast on ESPN.
He helped his team come back from an eight-point deficit at the half to pull out a 113-110 victory, dishing out seven assists to go along with his five points.
Wayns has committed to Villanova, and fellow future Wildcat Dominic Cheek scored 15 points for the East.
Wayns showed a lot of energy from the opening tip, converting a three-point play after he drew a foul driving to the basket for a layup to give the East an early 7-2 lead. He followed that with a beautiful alley-oop pass to MVP Derrick Favors that led to a monstrous dunk to give the East a 13-8 lead.
"It was a whole lot of fun, and we got the win to top it off," Wayns said. "Getting to play from the beginning was an advantage because that's a big thing, playing on national television for the first time. But since I started I got the jitters out early."
Even though it was all about having a good time and showing off their skills, the players all remained competitive and that was the theme in the locker room during intermission.
Wayns and his teammates wanted to erase the deficit and make it a close game again. They delivered by scoring the first three baskets of the second half, but Wayns was held without a field goal during his 8 minutes on the court.
With the pressure off by having chosen his school, Wayns was able to enjoy the festivities surrounding the actual game, such as swimming with the dolphins at the Miami Seaquarium and spending time at the Ronald McDonald House with kids and their families.
His parents, some cousins and aunts, an uncle and his grandmother made the trip to watch Wayns play.
Wayns spent most of his time with two of his East teammates, Cheek, a 6-6 guard from St. Anthony in Jersey City, N.J., and Dante Taylor, a 6-9 forward from New York.
He and Cheek had talked about going to the same college since they were kids, and Wayns had some fun talking a little trash with Pittsburgh-bound Taylor over the weekend after Villanova upset the Panthers in the Elite Eight.
There was a crowd of 5,981 on hand, including former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning, to watch the thrilling finish, something that made it a little more exciting for Wayns on the court, and a little easier to have some fun.
"It's pretty neat playing [in front of] all of those former players and seeing them smile courtside every time you did something," Wayns said. "It was exciting."
His next exciting moment will be watching Villanova at the Final Four, and then he will continue to prepare for his college career with the Wildcats. *