Special to the Sun
Monday, June 15, 2015 | 2:37 p.m.
Mojave High basketball standout Malik Abbott signed his participation agreement last week to finalize his commitment to Air Force.
The 6-foot-4 shooting guard signed the agreement, which is the military academy’s version of a letter of intent, after returning from a two-day visit to Colorado Springs, Colo.
“I’m grateful to have this opportunity,” Abbott said. “It wouldn’t be possible without this great family and support system around me.”
Abbott, who ESPN ranks as the No. 11 recruit in Nevada for 2015, averaged double figures as a senior at Mojave.
“I’ve been coaching for four and half years, and I haven’t met a kid with a higher character level than Malik Abbott,” said Lamar Bigby, his AAU coach with the Las Vegas Knicks. “He’s a good basketball player, but he’s an even better person and a great student.”
The academy has some of the most rigid requirements in all of Division I, requiring a 3.5 high school grade point average and a minimum score of 25 on the ACT in all subjects.
And the commitment is much bigger than school and basketball. Abbott is agreeing to enter into active military service.
“It was something I had to think about a lot and talk with my family about a lot,” Abbott said. “At first, I was iffy, but my uncle was in the Air Force,and he spoke very highly about it.”
The military background in Abbott’s family played a big factor. His uncle Bill Criely served in the Air Force, and his father, Joel Abbott, spent time in the U.S. Marines.
“My dad was able to tell me about all the things that (the military) helped him with,” Abbott said. “He told me about all the discipline and time-management skills that he learned.”
Abbott also had the benefit of talking with his AAU teammate Garett Scheer, who is also an Air Force commit. Scheer committed to Air Force last summer.
“Garrett is one of my close friends, so I would talk to him a lot,” Abbott said. “He encouraged me to go there as well. It will be fun being there with somebody I know.”
Air Force was the only school to offer Abbott a scholarship, but he also drew interest from Harvard and Tennessee-Martin, Bigby said.
“Air Force had been recruiting him the whole time, since the beginning of the school year,” Bigby said. “When they offered him a scholarship it meant something to him because (Air Force assistant coach) Andy Moore had been with him for so long and built a relationship.”
Abbott’s campus visit last week only confirmed his decision. He and his family left the academy impressed by the team facilities and the famous cadet chapel.
“The organ in the chapel was crazy,” Abbott said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”