Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — At one point during Malik Newman’s 40-point outburst here Thursday morning, he drained one of his four 3-pointers and Kentucky coach John Calipari broke out laughing courtside.
Calipari reached over to SMU coach Larry Brown and North Carolina coach Roy Williams and jokingly held them from falling over.
“It makes me feel good but I’m not sure if they’re here watching me or watching someone else, but I just try to show them that I can play and show them that I need a scholarship,” the 6-foot-3 Newman out of Jackson (MS) Calloway, the Rivals No. 1 player in the Class of 2015, said after making 12-of-28 shots and 12-of-16 foul shots in an 80-67 loss to Houston Hoops.
Safe to say those coaches — and many more — were watching Newman put on a show.
“I was really just trying to do anything I can for my team to win,” he said. “But unfortunately, we came up short so the 40 doesn’t really matter right now.”
Last month, he was named the MVP of the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship for Men as the Americans won gold in Uruguay.
Newman not only finished as the USA’s leading scorer (16.2 ppg.), but he also led the squad in steals (2.8 spg.), free-throw percentage (.786) and 3-point field-goal percentage (.357), while seeing just over 22 minutes of action a contest.
“We came together a true team and we really went out there to represent our country,” Newman said. “It was great experience going overseas. It was a long flight though.”
Newman said he has no college list at the moment, but did discuss Kentucky, North Carolina and Duke, saying he holds a Kentucky offer and he’s always been a Calipari fan.
“He always has the No.1 point guard or the No. 1 pick so he’s a great coach,” Newman said. “He develops his players the right way. He makes them play hard and he makes them be a man off the court. So I really can’t answer more than that.”
Newman said North Carolina has offered but Duke has not yet.
“Both great schools, great programs, great academics,” he said. “They always have players that go to the league and always have an impact on whatever team they go to, so going there that would be a real good school for me.”
On Duke, he has spoken with Coach K “a little bit” and with assistant Jeff Capel.
As for the North Carolina offer, Newman said: “It was a greet feeling. Like I said with Kentucky, I didn’t think it was going to come that fast. I thought maybe next year or going into my senior year.
“But I can’t stop working because they may take it from me.”
Photo: USA Basketball
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.