Varsity Xtra: New Castle's Hooker brothers 'revive' family act
March 13, 2015 12:00 AM
New Castle's Marquel Hooker and his brother, Marcus, celebrate after defeating Indiana Tuesday at North Allegheny.
By Mike White / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Malik Hooker set the family bar extremely high.
But together, hand in hand, two little brothers are stretching for it.
Marquel and Marcus Hooker are starters on the New Castle High School basketball team, one year after their big brother led the Red Hurricanes to an unforgettable, perfect season. Malik also was a standout football player and is now at Ohio State, participating in spring practices after redshirting his first year with the national champion Buckeyes.
Malik was one of the best two-sport athletes ever to wear the black and red of New Castle. Now, Marquel and Marcus are trying to wear Malik's shoes. Or at least follow his path.
"We both knew we had to try and fill his shoes," Marquel said of Malik. "Coming into this season, everyone was expecting a lot from us. We're just trying to give it our all."
So far, the younger Hookers have given plenty, and one of them is only a freshman.
Marquel is a 5-foot-11, 163-pound junior guard who averages 14.4 points a game. He also averages 6.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 3.7 steals, while shooting 50 percent from the field. He has 38 3-pointers.
Marcus is a 6-foot, 180-pound ninth-grade forward oozing with athleticism and potential. Marcus is averaging 10.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.1 rebounds. He is shooting 59 percent from the field.
The Hookers have helped New Castle reach the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals. The Red Hurricanes play Archbishop Carroll tonight at Chambersburg.
"They've been huge all year," New Castle coach Ralph Blundo said. "We've had some pretty good athletic families come through New Castle over the years. I think what Malik started is something special."
Marcus said, "I would just like to keep the family name in a good spot."
This is the first year of varsity basketball for both Hookers. When the Red Hurricanes were winning WPIAL and PIAA titles a year ago, Marcus watched from the stands as an eighth grader. Marquel was a junior varsity player.
But they have come through this season, albeit with different styles. Marquel plays on the outside and, although he has an unorthodox shot, he is one of the top deep threats on the team. Marcus plays more on the inside.
"Marquel is very uncanny and very unique as a player, from the way he shoots to the way he handles the ball. But man, does he have a motor," Blundo said. "People compare Marcus to Malik a little bit and Marcus is probably having a better year than Malik had as a freshman. But Marcus has been asked to do more than Malik as a freshman."
Marcus looks mature beyond his years and his body resembles that of Malik, from the wide, rounded shoulders to the slightly bowed legs. Marcus also plays football and was a starting receiver/defensive back as a freshman. With his athleticism and body, Marcus is definitely a Division I college prospect in football down the road.
"We're similar," Marcus said of his oldest brother. "But we're not the same person. We've got different personalities."
Marquel doesn't play football.
"They have a great chemistry with one another," Blundo said. "They'll fight like cats and dogs sometimes, but Marquel has really nurtured Marcus. I mean, Marcus is like a baby. He's still 14 years old, but Marcus has demonstrated a lot of savvy."
Malik comes to his brothers' basketball games when he can. A few weeks ago, when asked who was going to be the best Hooker, Malik said with a smile, "I'm still the best."
But maybe the family baton will be passed someday.
"Marcus is going to end up the best," Marquel said. "I feel like he's going to get a bigger and better grip on things next year. He should be a dominant player the next two years."
For more on high school sports, go to "Varsity Blog" at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog. Mike White: email@example.com, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh
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