Bethune-Cookman University announced the signing of their first basketball player under new head head coach Ryan Ridder on Monday. Malik Maitland is returning home to Daytona Beach to star for a Wildcats program that will look to turn the corner coming off a disappointing 10-22 season.

Former Morehead State head coach Sean Woods resigned in December following allegations from Malik Maitland and a teammate of physical altercations. It’s an ordeal that’s still going through the court system, but ultimately led to Maitland’s desire to transfer. His family, remained a rock during a tough time.

“My parents do a great job to always nurture me to take things in a way that I can always handle mentally and physically,” Maitland said. “So I felt like it wasn’t hard, but at the time it was.”

A strong sense of family and a desire to be closer to home, eventually led to Maitland signing with Bethune-Cookman, turning down offers from North Carolina Central, Winthrop and Albany among others.

“I felt like staying home,” added Maitland. “Giving back, because of the community here has been behind my back since day one, so I felt like I should give back. I felt like if I have something to prove, why not prove it here.”

In high school Maitland was a standout point guard at Father Lopez, the same school new B-CU head coach Ryan Ridder starred at years prior. Their relationship and common ground another key selling piece for Maitland.

“Knowing each other since he was in ninth grade I definitely think that was a huge factor,” Bethune-Cookman head coach Ryan Ridder said. “We have common people that we trust. From Gordon White, to coach Eddie Miller at Father Lopez, we both were able to have that mutual friendship, so hopefully we can make Father Lopez and this community proud together.”

The Wildcats have filed paperwork with the NCAA in hopes of granting Maitland immediate eligibility as a redshirt sophomore next season. In the meantime Maitland will adjust to playing basketball back home with his newfound family.

“I want to win the conference and go far into March Madness.”