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.
Briscoe, Blakeney Recruiting Malik Newman at McDonald’s Game (UPDATED)
By KHADRICE ROLLINS
CHICAGO — The recruitment of Malik Newman is a big deal. At the McDonald’s All-American practices this week, the courting process has continued to be news.
The 6-foot-4 guard from Callaway (MS) said that many of his fellow All-Americans have attempted to convince him to join them next year, but LSU and Kentucky are definitely standing out.
LSU commits Antonio Blakeney and Ben Simmons have been working on convincing Newman to join them in Baton Rouge since they showed up for the festivities.
“Malik is here, and we are still trying to recruit him, and that’s it,” Blakeney said Monday.
The interest is definitely mutual as Newman said that the push made by the LSU commits this weekend has been working, and they have provided the best pitch so far.
But LSU is not the only SEC school that has a chance at bringing the Mississippi guard to campus next year.
Kentucky is in the running to land Newman, and their only McDonald’s All-American commit, Isaiah Briscoe, has been helping to persuade Newman to come to Lexington.
Coming off winning the New Jersey Tournament of Champions title last week, Briscoe declined to comment on the idea of recruiting Newman or other players for Kentucky. But he has been working on building relationships with the players who are with him in Chicago this week and enjoying his time.
“After this and Jordan Brand, this is probably the last time I get to be with all of them,” Briscoe said. “So I’m just trying to make the best out of my experience.”
For Newman, Kentucky is certainly a possibility, but he does want to see who stays and who goes from this year’s team. It’s unclear what sophomores Andrew and Aaron Harrison will do, while freshman shooting guard Devin Booker is a projected first-round pick and freshman point guard Tyler Ulis is expected to return.
“It plays a big role,” Newman said. “Because there may be a lot of guards staying. If there is a lot of bigs then it could benefit me a lot. So that is a big factor.”
While Briscoe said that it does not matter to him who stays or leaves at Kentucky, it is clear that the returning roster is playing a role in the decision-making of other recruits.
While Newman said he still does not know when he will make a decision, there is one team and a set of commits that have made the best argument this week.
“The killer B’s with LSU,” Newman said. “But Briscoe has been doing a good job too. But it’s two against one.”
Newman also met recently with new Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland, who was previously the coach at UCLA, where he had the chance to work with another combo guard, Russell Westbrook.
For Newman, the chance to work with a coach who has experience managing a combo guard and helping him take his game to the next level could be career changing.
“As you can see, he did a tremendous job with Westbrook, so I think he can do a great job with me,” Newman said. “He’s one of those coaches, he’s demanding, he expects a lot out of you and he’ll get a lot out of his players.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
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.