A short bio of Malekai Mischke:
I grew up in Beijing, China, and attended the International School of Beijing (where the Alexander brothers all played). I grew up extremely passionate about basketball and was very fortunate to attend the very first Global Squad in 2011. I then attended Global Squad 2012 & 2013, and it’s been amazing to follow GS’s growth to date.
Global Squad and John Alexander have played an instrumental role in my career & life. Prior to Global Squad 2013, I finally understood I probably wouldn’t play anything above D3 hoops and should use basketball to get into a top academic school. I was extremely fortunate that John supported my recruitment and connected with D3 coaches on my behalf.
I ended up at Carleton College â a D3 school and Top 10 Liberal Arts college â so this worked out well. At Carleton, I got to hang around ambitious folks while getting the college basketball experience.
Today I’m with Next Gen HQ, where we encourage people to design their own lives through entrepreneurship. We’re a NYC-based startup that provides the resources entrepreneurs need to win at business & life. I’m truly grateful to Global Squad and John for the help in guiding me here.
What was one thing you enjoyed about playing college basketball? One thing you wouldâve improved?
By far the best part is the relationships you build with teammates. You become brothers for life. Some of my fondest memories from college (as a whole) are the post-practice locker room convos, daily team dinners, and celebrations after a big win.
I still think the mental side of sports is under-hyped. If I were to go back and play college ball again, I would’ve trained my mind to worry less. During my playing days, I let missed shots or poor practices stay top of mind for too long. My coping strategy was always to put in extra work â which was helpful â though a mindfulness routine would’ve been game-changing for my experience.
What was one thing you werenât ready for once entering college or one thing you wish you prepared more for?
You get lots of free time in college â don’t waste it. I had just 10 hours of class a week, so there was plenty of opportunity to learn, experience, and improve at your sport. I wish I was a little more intentional about my time in college. If I could go back, I would outline various life goals and invest time into the activities that directly aligned.
Defense & quickness. Going into college, I had this weird preconception that physical strength (especially upper-body strength) was super important for a guard at the college level. That’s 100% false (at least in my conference). Quickness is far more important. I definitely wasn’t ready to defend at the college level. If you’re in high school right now, I’d recommend adding a ladder workout to your daily routine. You can get away with sub-par defense in high school, but if you can’t defend in college, you won’t see the court.
What was the biggest difference from practices in high school vs. practices in college? What about games?
Basketball at the International School of Beijing and D3 basketball in the US is completely different. They’re almost different sports. At an international high school, basketball is a fun hobby. In college, it’s your life.
My high school basketball team practiced for ~5 hours a week. My college basketball team practiced for ~25 hours a week (if you include practices + lifts + film sessions). In high school, we rarely talked about defensive strategy. At my college, offense was secondary to D. In high school, we had zero scouting reports/zero game film sessions, whereas in collegeâ¦….. you get the idea.
What helped you best adjust to life in America or college?
I grew up in Beijing (13 years) whereas the vast majority of my college teammates grew up around each other in Minneapolis. I absolutely loved my teammates, but the adjustment naturally took time given the very different backgrounds. I think having multiple peer groups â notably some relatable international friends â was quite helpful in my transition.
Is there any closing advice youâd like to give other younger players?
For the international hoopers out there (especially those in APAC), do me a favor: look at your basketball reality objectively. What I’m saying is if you’re not good enough, don’t kid yourself. When thinking about college basketball options, don’t think about your best-case scenario (ex: “if the stars line up I’ll get PT at this D1 school”). Instead, think about your most-likely scenario and let this guide your decisions. There are way too many players out there that forgo a great D3 experience (and education) to sit on the bench or transfer at D2/D1 schools.
This doesn’t mean don’t dream big. Please dream big. But do so with a clear understanding of your basketball odds + college/post-college goals.