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Hibbing’s Marcus Malloy Jr. has been a steadying influence for the Cardinals this season.

HIBBING — In this new-age of recruiting, coaches will still make house visits to draw players into their programs, but it’s not that easy at Hibbing Community College.

Cardinal coach Paul Ciochetto will look at players on film, but there’s still some that come in sight unseen.

One of those players was Marcus Malloy Jr.

The West Deptford, N.J., native never got a visit from Ciochetto. They contacted each other through Twitter, and that was enough for Ciochetto to bring the second-year player to camp.

“That’s how I get most of my guys,” Ciochetto asid. “That’s the way of recruiting right now, especially at our level. You need a data plan, and you’re good to go. I found him on Twitter, and reached out to him.

“We talked about things, and ironically enough he committed while we were on a bus to Northland last year. He was one of those pieces I could point to other recruits saying, ‘This is the guy that’s coming in. Take a look at him.’”

What did Ciochetto like about Malloy Jr.?

“He’s a solid player,” Ciochetto said. “He’s been around a little bit. He was at one college early on. It didn’t work out, but he learned a lot from that. He’s a great student. He’s a great leader. You couldn’t ask for anything more from him.

“He’s battled through injury the whole year. I think he’s finally healthy, and we’re starting to see the real Marcus Malloy Jr. He has a lot of interest from four-year colleges.”

How did that Twitter conversation start?

“Coach Ciochetto knew one of my guys, who promotes every kid that he can,” Malloy Jr. said. “He does it out of the kindness of his heart. He knew him somehow, and Coach Ciochetto had an opening.

“They put us together. We started talking, and I ended up here. It’s been cool, honestly. It’s a dream-come-true. I can do the thing I love to do every-single day — play basketball, start and be a captain. I love it.”

Malloy Jr. definitely has game.

As a freshman and sophomore, he attended Glassboro High School, then he transferred to West Deptford, and was coined a captain right away.

“I had a good career,” Malloy Jr. said.

After high school, Malloy Jr. enrolled at the New Hampshire Technical Institute, which is in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association.

Malloy Jr. found out right away that that wasn’t a good fit for him.

“They system, I didn’t fit in too well,” Malloy Jr. said. “In the USCAA, you could come in during the second semester and play. I came in during the second semester, so I wasn’t there in the first. They had a good, established team.

“They had won a conference championship, so there wasn’t a lot of playing time to be had, especially in the second semester. Coach Ciochetto gave me a chance, and I came here.”

Ciochetto was getting a polished player, with a lot of versatility.

“You ask him to do anything on court, and he will do it,” Ciochetto said. “He can rebound. He can shoot. He can bring the ball up if we need it. He can guard from the two through the five. That gives us a lot of versatility based on the different opponents we have to play.

“I can stick him on a smaller guard that maybe is a good shooter but doesn’t move much. He’s going to shut him down. I can put him on a big guy, and he can do the same thing because he has that strength.”

Malloy Jr. developed that game in New Jersey and Philadelphia, which is a 10-minute drive from his home in West Deptford.

“The basketball was good,” Malloy Jr. said. “North Jersey, South Jersey, talented players. That made me a lot better. You just can’t go to the gym. They won’t let you on the court. They will kick you off the court, and you could be off of it for hours.

“You have to work hard. It was a lot of motivation. I would wake up at 6 a.m., every day to get into the gym and get ready.”

Malloy Jr’s. ability has given Ciochetto a lot of flexibility on the court.

“It’s like having a queen on a chess board,” Ciochetto said. “You can do anything with that. That makes your entire team more versatile. From an offensive perspective, we see different match ups on him.

“Sometimes, we have a guard on him, and sometimes, we have a post. We can either bring him outside or put him inside and take advantage of those mismatches.”

For Malloy Jr., it doesn’t matter where he’s positioned on the court. He has one goal in mind.

“I’m a team-first dude, honestly, always,” Malloy Jr. said. “My teammates come before me. They look up to me for a lot of things, so I have to be that voice. I have to come to practice with intensity and heart every time.

“They usually listen. That’s my job. That’s my role.”

On a more somber note, Malloy Jr., who said he is a LeBron James fan, was hit hard by the news of Kobe Bryant’s death in that helicopter crash.

“I’m more of a LeBron fan, but I definitely was a Kobe guy,” Malloy Jr. said. “It was his mentality, the work-ethic part, that’s what I can say I got from him. He motivated me to get up. You have to work hard for everything.

“It doesn’t just come to you. Hearing the news of him passing, it hit me really, really hard. It taught me that I have to work hard, and more importantly, appreciate life and those around me.”

That’s why Malloy Jr., who wants to be either a physician’s assistant or go into physical therapy, has been in constant contact with his family since that tragedy.

“Immediately after hearing the news, I was in shock for a little bit, then I called all of my family members, every-single one of them, and talked to them for so long,” Malloy Jr. said. “I told every one of them I loved them, and since then, I’ve been doing that every-single day.”

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