Marshall County's Sain signs with Bethel

Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Marshall County High School graduate Malek Sain, who recently signed with Bethel University, runs out at the Murphy Center in Murfreesboro during the state tournament last year. Tribune Photo by Anthony S. Puca

Every March the basketball careers of high school seniors across the country end, save the small percentage of players with the talent, drive, and heart to continue up to the college ranks.

Following the 2015-16 season Marshall County's own, Malek Sain joined that exclusive club by signing with Bethel University this summer.

"Bethel was recruiting me right after the season, but I had so many schools looking at me, including prep schools that I never really paid them any attention because I let my ego take me under throughout that time," Sain said. "I thought about it a lot and I needed to go where I would fit in. I'm glad they understood my situation and gave me a chance."

High numbers

Sain leaves Marshall County as one of the most decorated players in recent history with over 1,500 career points along with being named All-District for the past three seasons, All-Region the past two seasons and All-State in 2015-2016.

Sain paced the Tigers with 20 points per game while also chipping in five rebounds per game, four assists and three steals, leading Marshall County to its first birth in the state tournament since the 2008-09 season.

Marshall County struggled to put away some less talented competition during the middle of the season before exploding in the post-season.

Playoff star

"The mid-season was rough," Sain stated. "We were losing to teams that we shouldn't have and nobody was with us then. We believed in our coach and ourselves during the hardest time of the season. We put our egos aside and played as a team to get to where we needed to go. We made it to state, but came up short. It all happened for a reason."

Sain was instrumental in the playoff run to Murfreesboro, leading the Tigers in scoring in comeback wins over Camden Central and Cascade and knocking down clutch shots late in the game in the monumental upset over heavily favored Maplewood in the state sectional contest at Nashville.

Moving up

The Marshall County native will make the short move to McKenzie, a town of just over 5,000 residents in West Tennessee, to continue a playing career for Bethel which belongs to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and competes in the Southern States Athletic Conference.

"My first year of college I'm expecting to work as hard as I can to make a statement," Sain said. "I want a starting position and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get it." "Basketball is going to be an everyday, all day routine so I'll have to adjust and take care of my body," Sain added. "The atmosphere and competition is a lot different, so it should be fun. I'm really looking forward to it. "

The Wildcats finished the 2015-16 season with a respectable 18-11 record including a 10-8 conference finish, but lost to the College of Coastal Georgia by just five points in the opening round of the SCAC Tournament.

Bethel will open the season on November 4 at Pikeville, Kentucky to compete in the Appalachian Wireless Classic and Sain will test his hand against top tier Division I talent when the Wildcats travel to Murray, Kentucky to take on NCAA Division One powerhouse Murray State on December 13.

New challenges

"Me being at the collegiate level now will be a much bigger challenge," Sain said. "I won't be able to score like I did in high school and play defense unless I put the work in. It doesn't lie."

And for the teammates that Sain is leaving behind that aspire to follow him to the college level, the smooth shooting southpaw guard offers a little advice- "For any athlete, find what you love and put your all into it," Sain said. "Besides the practices, you have to put the work in before or after, or both. Even if it's by yourself. If you want it as bad as you think you do, you'll have to step outside of your comfort zone and do things by yourself so that it will show."