In late August of 2014, 6-foot-3 combo guard Malik Newman was sweating in a Manhattan gym during workouts and practices for the Under Armour Elite 24, an all-star showcase for the best of the best prep players in the country.
Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum were also there, who both play for the Boston Celtics now. Among others putting in their sweat equity were Thon Maker, Justin Jackson, Dennis Smith Jr., Brandon Ingram, Harry Giles and Donovan Mitchell, all of whom are now cashing checks from the Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz respectively.
Newman, from Callaway High School in Jackson, Mississippi, was considered the best pure scorer out of that group. Earlier that month, the scoring machine had been named the MVP of the FIBA Under-17 World Championships in Dubai.
Watch the best action of the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship MVP Malik Neman on the FIBA YouTube channel. The 2014 FIBA U17 Basketball World Championship took place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates from 8-16 August.
Rated among the top ten players in the Class of 2015, he averaged 29.2 points as a junior, leading Callaway to its third straight 5A state basketball championship. As a senior, he led the school to its fourth consecutive state title while putting up 29.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game.
Following his senior year, he reached the trifecta of prep legend status when he was selected to play in the prestigious McDonald’s All-American Game, the Jordan Brand Classic and the Nike Hoop Summit.
Throughout his prolific prep career, scholarship offers poured in from Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Alabama, Southern Miss, Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, Louisville, North Carolina and Arizona. He ultimately chose to be the local boy that stayed at home and committed to Mississippi State, where his father, Horatio Webster, had once played forward and averaged 16.6 points and 6.3 rebounds during his junior and senior seasons in 1997 and 1998.
It was assumed that after his freshman year with the Bulldogs, he’d be one and done like many of the other top ranked players in his class.
Malik Newman is the consensus #1 ranked shooting guard in the country by various ranking databases. Here is Newman dominating the Jackson, MS basketball scene for the past 3 years. **Click SEE MORE for Links** ScoutHoops.com’s National Recruiting Analyst Rob Harringtonhad this to say about Malik Newman: “He’s a threat to go for 50 points at any moment”.
But his debut season did not have a storybook ending. His inconsistent play was a result of nagging injuries and after averaging 11.3 points per game, he declared for the NBA draft. He later withdrew his name and decided to return to school, opting to transfer to Kansas.
After sitting out a year due to the NCAA’s bogus transfer rules, he averaged 12 points during his sophomore campaign for the Jayhawks this year, often looking uncertain and nothing like the prep phenom who who punished opponents with offensive impunity. He looked to be thinking too much instead just playing and unleashing his natural brilliance.
It wasnt hard. At the end of the day, I had to make a mans decision, Newman told Sporting News about his decision to transfer and having to sit out a year. I had to do what was best for me and best for my career. So it wasnt a hard decision. The only hard part about it was game day. Other than that, I had fun in practice, had fun with the guys off the court. The only challenging part about that was not being able to lace up on game day.
Malik Newman scored 28 points to lead the Kansas Jayhawks past Seton Hall and into the Sweet 16. Watch highlights, game recaps, and much more from the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament on the official NCAA March Madness YouTube channel.
Accustomed to always having the ball in his hands in high school and at Mississippi State, he had to learn to play the game differently while point guard Devonte’ Graham, Kansas’ exceptional floor general, ran the show. The adjustment was not without its difficulties as Newman had to force his eyes and brain to see and think the game differently.
Some idiotic folks took to calling him a bust, just another overrated prospect.
But when Kansas beat Duke 85-81 in Sunday’s Elite Eight overtime thriller, reaching the Final Four for the first time since 2012, folks who’d been watching and studying Newman’s game for years just nodded and smiled. Because with his 32 points, including all 13 of the Jayhawks points in overtime, he showed everyone that he’s still the same force of nature that we knew him to be from back in the day.
It just took some time for the dominance to surface.
Thats the player everybody envisioned right there, his father told the media after the win against Duke.
Something clicked after the regular season. Since the Big 12 Tournament tipped off, Newman is averaging 22 points and has easily become the Jayhawks’ best player and most explosive offensive weapon.
Malik Newman scores 17 points, including 4 three-pointers, to go with 7 rebounds, and 3 assists to help Kansas advance to the Elite 8. Watch highlights, game recaps, and much more from the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament on the official NCAA March Madness YouTube channel.
Graham, the All-American senior guard, has been exceptional all year. And with Newman now asserting himself without over-thinking the game and letting his skills and instincts take over, Kansas has the illest backcourt still standing at the Final Four.
Its the guy I knew I was, Newman said after the Elite Eight, referencing his postseason breakthrough. I just had to find myself. Had to do some soul-searching. Things, they just clicked at the right time.
Hes been their hottest player, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski told the media when asked about Newman’s play. He basically continued to do what he does.
The casual fan sees the sexy dunks, areial acrobatics and pretty jump shots, but what they miss is what happens on defense. Guarding Duke’s best shooter, Grayson Allen, Newman locked him down for most of the game.
Malik Newman dropped 32 points, including 5 three-pointers, to go with 7 rebounds as Kansas advances to the Final Four. Watch highlights, game recaps, and much more from the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament on the official NCAA March Madness YouTube channel.
Most of the American public paying attention to the NCAA Tournament is paraphrasing Jerry Seinfeld right now, watching the Kansas Jayhawks and saying, “Hello Newman“. But if you’re just getting hip, you’re late to the party.
Malik Newman ain’t new to this, he’s true to this.
He’s really just getting started, playing his best basketball yet on March Madness’ brightest stage. And the scary thing, for future opponents, is that there’s plenty more to come.