When Malakhi Knight envisions his athletic future he has a baseball bat in one hand and a glove in the other, manning shortstop in the big leagues.
The Marysville Getchell sophomore has already committed to making the first strides towards that goal, giving his verbal pledge to continue his career on the baseball diamond at Oregon State University — the 2018 College World Series title winners and Knight’s “dream school.”
“Going there and hopefully getting a shot to play in the MLB would be my ultimate goal for the very end,” Knight said.
But if the Chargers’ two-sport standout decides to pivot, a shot at a future on the hardwood doesn’t seem to be out of reach. Knight is in the midst of compiling a sensational sophomore basketball campaign filled with record-setting performances and numerous 30-point scoring efforts.
“He’s an elite high school athlete. He’s in the top one percent of high school athletes in the state of Washington,” Marysville Getchell coach Corby Schuh said. “He’s a really good basketball player, really good baseball player. I think he could do pretty much whatever sport he wanted.”
After being the only freshman to earn all-conference basketball honors in Wesco a season ago, the 2018 second-team Wesco 3A/2A selection has already established himself as an elite player in the 15-team league while averaging 25.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3.0 steals per game through the Chargers’ first 15 contests.
Knight has already broken the school record for points in a season, tallying 411 so far — 90 above Nathen Grimm’s previous school record of 321 set in the 2012-2013 season — and at 719 career points scored is just 85 points shy of Grimm’s career record of 804 set from 2011-2014. He also broke the program’s single-game scoring record with a 33-point performance against Meadowdale on Dec. 21, 2018.
“He can do it all. He can score outside with the 3-pointer, he’s got a really quick first step and can get to the basket, he can get out on the break and run,” Schuh said. “… He’s a high-level defender. We typically put him on the best scorer from the other team. He can rebound with anybody with his strength and size and athleticism.”
That dynamic skill-set is evident when Knight takes the court.
At 6-foot-3, the guard uses his size and athleticism to finish around the rim and score in the paint and can burn teams from deep with a smooth stroke from beyond the arc.
Knight’s offensive play is an ode to the new norm in basketball — take high-percentage shots around the rim and maximize potential scoring by shooting 3s. Those traits have helped Knight — who has notched six 30-point games and has scored at least 20 in 12 of his past 13 games this season — become an incredibly efficient scoring option for the Chargers. Knight is shooting nearly 60 percent from the field and has knocked down nearly 38 percent of his 3s.
“My whole life I haven’t been very big on the mid-range — either a 3 or inside,” Knight said. “But if my 3-point shot isn’t working, I try and get inside more times so I can try and get going again.”
But perhaps the most impressive part of Knight’s game is his ability to use both hands and the calmness and high basketball IQ he shows while being pressured.
“He’s played high-level sports, high-level baseball, he’s played high-level basketball and has been around a lot of talent,” Schuh said. “So he’s been in situations like that before. Nothing really ruffles his feathers. That’s just the kind of kid he is. He’s really humble and just has this demeanor to him. … He doesn’t get phased.”
That confidence on the court and exceptional talent led Knight’s teammates to vote him as a captain this season, making him the only non-senior captain on the Marysville Getchell squad.
Team captains Dylan Rice and Caleb Koellmer lauded the demeanor their teammate brings day in and day out.
“Malakhi has stepped up as a huge leader for this team,” Rice said. “He’s so mature for his age and is just a phenomenal athlete.”
“At his age, it’s amazing to watch him play,” Koellmer added. “The way he carries himself. He doesn’t boast, he doesn’t score on people and then flex or anything. He’s just really selfless and humble. It’s fun to watch.”
Unlike many elite athletes in Marysville, Knight chose to attend Marysville Getchell, which has yet to develop the athletic prowess rival Marysville Pilchuck has since the school’s opening in 2011.
“I didn’t want to follow in other people’s footsteps at MP,” Knight said. “I kind of wanted to start something new at Getchell. I wanted to start a new … tradition.”
A new tradition appears to be blooming with Knight leading the way. The Chargers (8-7, 6-3 Wesco 3A/2A) broke the school’s record for conference wins and tied the record for overall wins in a season with a 60-54 win over Everett on Friday night. Marysville Getchell also has a shot to achieve its first winning season in school history.
“I think it’s good for our school because a lot of people in this area have been like, ‘Getchell’s not that good at sports,’” Knight said. “But this year we’re having a pretty good year. I think that will open up people’s eyes that Getchell can actually be pretty good.“
Attending Marysville Getchell also gave Knight the chance to play with many childhood friends and he is excited to see the chemistry on the court as more of this season’s sophomores work their way on to the varsity roster in the future.
Knight has been playing sports for as long as he remembers and comes from an athletic background.
His mother, Linda, ran track in high school and father, Ryan, earned a scholarship to play wide receiver for the University of Washington football team.
“My parents are my biggest fans, and they help me with everything,” Knight said. “If I ever need something, I know I can go to them.”
Knight is also serious about his academics, setting a goal of achieving and maintaining a grade-point average of at least 3.8, and has interest in going into the veterinary field.
He also has interest in pursuing two sports in college if the chance presents itself.
“I’ve been thinking about that a little bit — trying to play baseball and basketball in college — that’s actually a dream of mine,” Knight said. “So I’d love to get the opportunity to do that.”