July's Underclassman: Malik Newman

Chances are, Malik Newman will find his way into a "July …" space at this time next year as well.

To whatever degree anyone would want to read The Joy of Summer Basketball, this month there's no question that Malik Newman could have been an author.

It's not easy for the No. 2 prospect to exceed expectations, yet that's exactly what the Mississippi native accomplished this July. Newman established himself early this cycle — beginning in April — as a scoring force versus older, 17-under competition.

By the time the summer live period opened a few weeks ago, then, he already had become a marquee name on the EYBL circuit. But no one could have predicted a 40-point outburst in front of everyone and their great aunt to open the Peach Jam.

The confident young talent then strode into Texas for the Great American Shootout and combined with elite senior Emmanuel Mudiay for Mo Williams Elite to form one half of the summer's most potent backcourt. And he ended the month — once again with Mudiay — at the Fab 48 in Las Vegas.

Newman teetered between excellent and spectacular at each stop. Colleague Brian Snow wrote from the GASO that Newman and Mudiay together should be "illegal," as the junior more than grabbed his share of the spotlight with his older teammate.

And then, in Vegas against Belmont Shore in what may have been the game of the summer, Newman scored 32 points.

Obviously, Newman mostly has made his rep on putting the ball through the hoop. He's a superlative athlete with a feathery shooting touch from deep and mid-range and, although he can be high-volume and streaky, can carry an offense himself.

And he's even better when he doesn't have to. Newman coexisted and even deferred on occasion to Mudiay, proving that he can be dominant while competing within the team concept. Many talented scorers over the years — and particularly underclassmen — needed additional experience before that became true. The fact that Newman already understands how to blend, at least a little, suggests he'll team up just fine with fellow elites at the collegiate and likely NBA level.

Meanwhile, he does hold the potential to do more. He flashes an all-around game that includes slashing and playmaking, along with defense and rebounding. The bottom line is that he's such a natural scorer no one wants to change him, but his self-driven progress suggests he may be able to largely push himself toward greatness.

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