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.
Malik Newman to Stay Home, Play for Mississippi State
Malik Newman is staying home.
As expected, the top uncommitted guard in the Class of 2015 verbally committed to Mississippi State at his Friday press conference at The Clarion-Ledger.
“Really just weighing out all my options and I think it’s somewhere that I can go and I can really have an impact,” he said Friday. “I think the guys really want me there and things like that. I think with the new coach [Ben Howland], I think he’ll push me and he only expects great things out of me and the team and I think that’s something that will happen.”
The 6-foot-4 guard from Jackson (MS) Callaway said he also considered Kentucky and Kansas.
“This is a very big day for Mississippi State and our men‘s basketball program,” said Howland, who has sent 19 players to the NBA. “Malik Newman is one of the top players in the country in the senior class of 2015. It’s a very special day and a huge day for our program to have him come to Starkville and help lead our program next year. He is a very talented player who has great ability to score the basketball and make plays for others. He’s an exceptional athlete, and most of all, he’s a great competitor.
“I’m very excited he is joining us. It’s a huge step for us next year and adding a player of his caliber is a great day for Mississippi State. It’s truly special that Malik is following in the footsteps of his father, Horatio Webster. To have Malik play his college career for the Mississippi State Bulldogs, we are extremely elated beyond expression.”
Webster seemed impressed when Howland was hired.
“From what I heard [Howland] has just as many players in the NBA as [Kentucky coach John Calipari] Cal does,” Webster told The Clarion-Ledger. “The fact that he went to three straight Final Fours, that in itself speaks volumes. Mississippi State wasn’t far off. I think if Coach [Rick] Ray would have been there another year they might have made it with the juniors and seniors they have.”
Howland’s track record with NBA guys also impressed Newman.
“In a way, it wasn’t the biggest factor but in a way it was,” he said.
Newman will also be following his father’s legacy at Mississippi State.
“It means a lot,” he said. “I’m pretty sure that it made him happy in a way but it wasn’t the biggest thing, but it was a special thing.”
Still, the pressure will be on Howland to win and win quickly as Newman is only expected to be on campus for one season.
He is projected as the No. 4 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.com.
Newman, who averaged 29.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game, has enjoyed a tremendous high school career.
He has won four state titles at Callaway as well as MVP honors and gold medals at the 2014 U17 World Championships and the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship. He has also won two Gatorade Player of the Year trophies.
Newman is latest high-profile player not to pick Kentucky, following Thomas Bryant (Indiana), Caleb Swanigan (Michigan State) and Stephen Zimmerman (UNLV).
Still, the Wildcats remain in the mix for uncommitted forward Cheick Diallo and uncommitted wing Jaylen Brown. They are also recruiting junior college guard Mychal Mulder, who visits this weekend, as well as 7-footer Thon Maker of Orangeville Prep and his teammate, point guard Jamal Murray. Both are deciding whether to reclass to 2015 from 2016 and are being courted by numerous schools, including Kentucky.
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.