Malik Newman's MSU highlights reveal much about his game
Kansas basketball fans will have to wait a while to see the team’s newest member, Malik Newman, suit up and contribute for the Jayhawks. NCAA transfer rules dictate Newman, a guard who spent his freshman year with Mississippi State, won’t be eligible to play for KU until the 2017-18 season.
Still, plenty of intrigue surrounds the 6-foot-3 guard from Jackson, Miss., who Rivals.com ranked the eighth-best player in the Class of 2015.
Considering Newman’s Bulldogs went 14-17 and weren’t exactly on the national radar, now is the perfect time to catch up on what you missed from his freshman season. Playing in 29 games, Newman averaged 11.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists for MSU, while making 61 of 161 3-pointers (37.9%).
Statistics are a nice starting point for any player, but thanks to the power of YouTube we also can get a glimpse of his strengths and weaknesses after one season of college basketball in the SEC.
One of the first things that jumps out about Newman in his highlight reels is his natural feel for the transition game. He is able to attack and score inside with the ball or space the floor on the fly and drift out to the 3-point line to score from there.
Plus, Newman seems to be a strong finisher against bigs at the rim for someone his size.
At the NBA Draft Combine, the 19-year-old guard had the following measurements: 6-foot-3.5 in shoes, 182 pounds, 6-foot-5.75 wingspan and a 35.5-inch maximum vertical. Honestly, the numbers kind of surprised me, because I thought he might be closer to a Wayne Selden Jr. type. Selden obviously has some years and weight-room experience on Newman, but also some size: Selden measured 6-5.75 in shoes, 232 pounds, with a 6-10.5 wingspan.
But you can see some similarities in their games, so maybe Newman can occupy a Selden-type role when he finally plays for Kansas over a year from now.
One of the coolest things you’ll find on Newman is DraftExpress.com’s breakdown of his one meeting with Kentucky this past season. He put together 14 points, 4 assists, 1 rebound and 1 turnover in 27 minutes of what turned out to be an 80-74 loss at Rupp Arena. Newman shot 1-for-3 inside the arc and 2-for-4 from deep, while going 6-for-6 at the foul line.
The greatest part of this particular clip, though, is that DraftExpress breaks down the positives and negatives of Newman’s game against the Wildcats — remember, Newman was expected to be a one-and-done college player and did test out the draft process before returning and transferring to Kansas.
As detailed in the DraftExpress video (posted below), here is how Newman looked against the SEC’s best program.
Showed the ability to put pressure on a retreating transition defense, and either scored or got to the free-throw line early in the shot clock.
Moved without the ball after penetrating to set himself up for a wide-open 3-pointer.
With time running out in the first half, turned a ball-screen up top into a successful 3-pointer.
On an in-bound set, remained patient when he didn’t have an angle or shot on the catch, then prodded and created a lane to drive for a layup.
Caught a swing pass for what would’ve been a great look at a 3-pointer but blew by the closing out defender instead and exploded to the rim to draw a foul.
Though Newman isn’t a traditional point guard, he made plays to set up teammates .
Threw the ball ahead to a big man running the floor in transition.
Attacked off the dribble to draw the defense’s attention and kicked out a pass for an open 3.
Got to the paint off the bounce and created a passing lane for a post player, who finished inside.
Showed some defensive lapses in the half court, even though Mississippi State was playing a 2-3 zone at the time.
Didn’t prepare himself to properly defend a screen away from the ball, then couldn’t recover to stop his man.
Failed to help defensively as a weak-side defender when a UK player drove in for a layup.
Court vision wasn’t always 20/20, and missed some chances to drive and kick, instead forcing missed layups.
Obviously no player is perfect, but you can see why Bill Self would want to bring in someone with Newman’s skills. Self and his staff will develop Newman behind the scenes next year at KU practices in preparation for what will be Newman’s sophomore season.
By the time Newman finally plays for Kansas, he won’t look like a freshman anymore, and just might play like a junior.
The Malik Newman we just met should be a more complete product by then. And you know he’ll be hungry to get back on the floor and prove he’s good enough to live up to that top-10 ranking he had coming out of high school.
— For more discussion about KU's latest addition, check out our latest Spodcasters episode.