Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Bulldog Guard Withdrawing From Draft, Weighing Second Season at State

Malik Newman likes to keep opponents guessing about his next move. Now the Bulldog guard is successfully doing the same with the basketball world.

Media outlets have been tipped that Newman, a rising sophomore at Mississippi State, will definitely withdraw from the National Basketball Association’s draft ahead of tomorrow’s deadline. His father, former Bulldog forward Horatio Webster, told Gene Swindoll of that Newman will also return to Mississippi State for the coming school year and second season in Humphrey Coliseum.

Newman himself has not been quoted. However, other comments add enough spice to the subject to keep all but immediate family talking.

It nicely follows Newman’s recruiting last March. Even as reports of a firm commitment to newly-hired Coach Ben Howland gained credence, just enough uncertainty was created to keep interest spiking right up to the moment Newman said the words himself.

Howland has said from the moment Newman signed that the 6-3 guard, rated by some services the nation’s number one backcourt prospect of 2015, was a ‘one and done’ player. Then injuries struck, beginning with a pre-season turf toe and followed by a hyperextended knee in early SEC season and nagging back issues the rest of the way.

Newman never was able to play 100% for an extended stretch. He averaged 11.3 points and 27.7 minutes, shot under 40% in SEC play, but did score the second-most three point goals by a Bulldog freshman. What was missing was the explosive moves of high school.

Newman still earned invitation to the NBA’s Chicago combine in spring and worked out for a number of clubs privately. Draft projections have remained firmly in the second round at best, which seems just too risky for a talented young player.

There has been speculation Newman could still gamble on going to either the Developmental League or even overseas for the coming season. That seems an even larger risk, where college is the sure thing. He cannot go play a year in the state junior college system per rules having declared for professional ball once. And going to another senior college would cost a whole transfer year without any net gain.

Newman’s return would give him more opportunity to work at his natural point guard position as well as off-guard. He would certainly complement the less-heralded but more-productive classmate Quinndary Weatherspoon in a potent Bulldog backcourt, which will have the help of Howland’s first full recruiting class and some other maturing personnel who battled through the debut year together.

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