Malik Starkes feels misunderstood.
The Math, Civics & Sciences combo guard was in the spotlight last season for the wrong reasons. Starkes argued with an official in a game in late February last season, letting his emotions boil over in an incident that prompted a suspension by District 12 for the remainder of the 2013 season and all Public League games in 2014.
"I want everybody to see that I'm not the kind of guy that they think I am," Starkes said Thursday at the Reebok Classic Breakout, a showcase of the nation's top high school basketball players, hosted by Philadelphia University.
"I've got a passion for the game so it might look like I'm an angry guy. But that's just the way I play. I love this game."
Starkes said he'd been accused of chasing after a referee in that game, but the rising senior maintains that he was bolting to the locker room instead.
He hopes to get the opportunity to argue his case before district officials and become eligible for every game next season. Starkes, rated three stars by Rivals.com, would relish in more chances to show what he can do outside the AAU scene with his team, Philly Pride.
In a game at the Reebok Classic Breakout on Thursday, Starkes scored 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting in 16 minutes on the court. Defensively he was key in limiting guard Dominic Magee, a Louisiana native with offers from UCLA, Arizona and more big time programs, to 1-of-9 from the floor and six turnovers.
Starkes did this with college coaches like Villanova's Jay Wright and Georgetown's John Thompson III watching closely from the stands.
"I'm going to prove them wrong," Starkes said. "That's all I can do."