Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Bulldog Freshman Will Enter Draft for Evaluation; Has Not Signed with an Agent

Malik Newman was proclaimed a clear one-and-done upon arriving at Mississippi State. A freshman season later the Bulldog guard will indeed put his name into the NBA’s early entry draft pool…but with the new luxury of a long and water-proof string attached.

Mississippi State is holding a short-notice press conference Tuesday afternoon in Humphrey Coliseum. The only subject given is ‘basketball’ but it doesn’t take a hoops-head to figure what it is about. As soon as the presser was announced, the instant reaction was Newman is making his declaration to enter the 2016 NBA draft.

Mississippi State officials have not confirmed, or denied, this judgement. But Newman’s father Horatio Webster has told publisher Gene Swindoll that Malik is declaring. Webster also said no agent has been contracted.

This will allow Newman to take advantage of a significant (for collegians and other amateurs) change in the NBA’s draft guidelines. Through last year players declaring for the draft could withdraw once and never again. Starting in 2016 players can declare and withdraw from multiple drafts and retain eligibility.

Of course signing with an agent at any points ends college eligibility, whether drafted or not.

Also, in January the schedule was revised. Instead of an original April 24 deadline to declare, players can wait as late as ten days after the NBA’s own invitation-only draft combine which is May 11-15. So the new deadline for a final decision—at least for this year if a player withdraws—is May 25.

The draft is June 23rd, with the lottery order drawing on June 17.

Last year’s date was April 16, for comparison.

A consensus top high school guard prospect out of Jackson’s Callaway High School in 2015, and a true recruiting coup for new head coach Ben Howland, Newman was supposed to be on the pro fast track all along. His freshman season at Mississippi State was derailed even before it began.

A turf toe suffered in November literally hobbled Newman most of the pre-conference schedule. He missed the opening game and started slowly, before notching double-digit points through December and into SEC play.

Just as Newman was rounding into form, he had to deal with a hyperextended knee for a couple of weeks; then back tightness as well. For the year he averaged 27.7 minutes despite the health problems, and was fourth in team scoring at 11.3 points. In conference play he scored 10.4 points on 37% shooting overall and 39% at the three-point arc. He did score the second-most treys by a Bulldog freshman.

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