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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Kansas guard Malik Newman to enter NBA Draft

Sophomore plans to sign with an agent, marking the end of his KU career

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) pumps his fist as the Jayhawks lock up the win against Seton Hall with seconds remaining in the game, Saturday, March 17, 2018 in Wichita, Kan.

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) pumps his fist as the Jayhawks lock up the win against Seton Hall with seconds remaining in the game, Saturday, March 17, 2018 in Wichita, Kan.

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After a stellar run through the postseason that saw him lead the Jayhawks in scoring, Kansas sophomore Malik Newman is headed to the NBA Draft and will be forgoing his remaining eligibility at KU.

Newman's father, Horatio Webster, confirmed to the Journal-World that his son had made the decision to turn pro after two seasons and three years as a college athlete.

Newman's decision was made this week after discussing his options and the pros and cons of each with both his family and KU coach Bill Self.

Although the decision puts Newman on the path to achieving his ultimate and oldest goal as a basketball player, Webster said that Newman's focus throughout the 2017-18 season remained fixed on KU and helping the Jayhawks win as much as possible.

“He never even brought it up," Webster said of the NBA. "I know that's his ultimate goal. That's been his goal since he was 5 years old when he didn't even know what he was talking about, but the NBA never came out of his mouth.”

KU officials confirmed Newman's news just after 5 p.m. on Wednesday via a press release announcing Newman's departure.

“First off I want to thank God for the opportunity,” Newman said in the release. “I want to thank Coach Self and the coaching staff for giving me this opportunity to come to Kansas. I definitely want to thank my teammates. The journey with these guys has been nothing short of amazing. My two years here was everything that I asked for.

“I cannot thank the Kansas fans enough,” Newman added. “They have been there since Day 1 and have supported me throughout my two years at Kansas. I’ll always be a Jayhawk and this will always be home for me.”

Newman, a former McDonald's All-American who once was projected as a Top 10 draft pick, has taken a longer road than expected to get to this point.

After electing to stay close to home for college after a standout prep career in Jackson, Miss., Newman endured a rough freshman season at Mississippi State and elected to transfer when it was over.

That led him to KU, which had been on his list of finalists the first time around, and, after two years as a Jayhawk — one in uniform and one as a redshirt — Newman is back on the NBA radar and ready to take his shot.

"My red-shirt year, I had a chance to develop and Coach Self took me under his wing and really prepared me," Newman said. "This year I had a chance to come out and play and this was the plan, to try to put myself in position to chase my dream. I sat down and talked with Coach Self and my family and this is the best time to do it. With that being said, I’ll forego my junior year at Kansas and I will put my name in the NBA Draft and plan on signing with an agent."

Self, who has a strong record of supporting his players through decisions like these, even going as far as to encourage them to turn pro if that is the best decision for them and their family, clearly felt good about Newman's decision to chase his dream.

“Malik has done everything that we had agreed to,” Self said in the release. “He came to Kansas and knew after a red-shirt year he would hopefully put himself into a position to be a professional basketball player after one year competing. He had a terrific season this year and was one of the best players in the NCAA tournament. I think this is good timing for Malik. We wish nothing but the best for him and appreciate all his efforts. We all know his best basketball is still ahead of him.”

Projected, and perhaps even expected, to lead the Jayhawks in scoring during the 2017-18 season after a stellar redshirt year that had the KU coaching staff buzzing about his talent, Newman got off to a slow start and took some time to regain his form.

After a bit of an underwhelming regular season, the 6-foot-4 shooting guard exploded in the postseason, leading the Jayhawks in scoring in six of the eight do-or-die games they played in the Big 12 tournament and NCAA Tournament and becoming one of the hottest players in all of college basketball during that stretch.

His six 20-plus point games included two 30-point outings and a dominant performance in the Elite Eight win over Duke in which he scored 13 points in the second half and all 13 of KU's points in overtime to lead the Jayhawks back to the Final Four. That performance will not soon be forgotten around Lawrence.

For the season, Newman finished as KU's third leading scorer, at 14.2 points per game, and shot 41.5 percent from the 3-point line (making 85 triples) and a team-best 83.5 percent from the free-throw line.

In 31.6 minute per game, Newman also averaged five rebounds per night, which ranked second on the team for the season behind 7-foot center Udoka Azubuike's seven rebounds per game.

Although Newman's name has not appeared on any mock drafts in the past year, it did recently show up on DraftExpress.com's list of five players trending in the right direction for the 2018 NBA Draft and there are plenty of people out there who believe that Newman's stellar NCAA Tournament run put him back in the conversation for being drafted. Whether he can crack the first round and the land of guaranteed contracts remains to be seen and likely will depend largely on his performance at the upcoming NBA Draft combine, scheduled for May 16-20 in Brooklyn.

Newman, 21, plans to hire an agent in the coming weeks and, therefore, will forego his remaining collegiate eligibility.

With Newman off the books, KU now has 13 scholarship players on the current roster for the 2018-19 season, but that number could dip by one or two more if either junior Lagerald Vick or sophomore Udoka Azubuike decide to follow Newman out the door to pursue professional opportunities.

Kansas, which is considered by many people as one of the preseason favorites entering the 2018-19 season, remains in strong pursuit of five-star shooting guard Romeo Langford, the top remaining unsigned player in the 2018 class, who is ranked No. 5 overall by 247 Sports and No. 6 by Rivals.com.

Langford, who said last week that he would like to make a decision by the end of the month, is down to Kansas, Indiana and Vanderbilt and there has been some speculation on the recruiting circuit that he has waited this long to see what Newman might do. If that's accurate, Newman's departure could wind up being good news for both KU and Newman.

None by Kansas Basketball

Comments

Reggie Flenory 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Good for him wish em nothing but the best !!!! #RockChalk

Jonathan Allison 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Congratulations Malik! Thanks for the memories. I wish that we could have made it last longer.

Time to go get paid!

Danny Hernandez 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Malik, your next stop, The NBA. just remember Frank Mason went in the second round and he's been a steal. Hopefully other NBA teams will see your value & draft you in the first round.

Thank You for the year. A Jayhawk forever. Wish I could have seen you play one more game this past Monday

Brianna Zaleski 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Good for him. Well deserved. Best of luck, Malik!

Romeo Langford, come on down

Jonathan Allison 2 weeks, 1 day ago

This definitely opens the door for Langford to choose KU.

I expect that Vick will announce his plans to enter the draft next. My guess is that he will not immediately announce plans to hire an agent leaving the door open to a return in the event that Langford does not choose KU.

Azubuike should also test the draft, but I wouldn't be surprised if he decides to bypass it. It's kind of obvious what he needs to work on.

Kent Richardson 2 weeks, 1 day ago

After it clicked for him this season we got to see what all the hype was about. This is a natural scorer with a long game, mid range game and ability to drive downhill. He displayed that pretty rare knack of finishing at the rim. Basically became unstoppable.

Good attitude and team mate. Thanks for being a Jayhawk Malik. You were special.

Suzi Marshall 2 weeks, 1 day ago

That run Newman made through the post season, especially against Duke solidified him as one of the all time great memories. Kansas fans will be talking and cel rating his Duke game...forever

Randy Signor 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Not much of a surprise and of course, like the rest of us, I wish him the very best; and, too, my first thought was that Bill, in that meeting, may have asked him to announce sooner rather than later a la Langford; that's now looking more like a possibility. I think our true competition for him is Vandy; Drew is a fine young coach and he's doing some fine recruiting—I taught high school with his dad, Homer, an assist. basketball coach; later the long time Valpo coach

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Good luck young man. You made one heck of an impressive run. Rock chalk!

Chris Bailey 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Rock Chalk Malik! Thanks for the memories! Best wishes to you in the draft and in your future endeavors! Once a Jayhawk ALWAYS a Jayhawk!

Marius Rowlanski 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Good for you Malik! Hope you have nothing but success in the NBA. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

Steve Johnson 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Hate to see him go but not surprised. Top player for the Hawks down the stretch but if it enables Langford to come to KU then it will be ok. Hopefully Big Dok stays, he has a lot of work to do and could be the best big man in the game next year. Vick may go to Europe if he leaves, he is not aggressive enough for the NBA but is a good player. I wish all of them the best and they will all be jayhawks for life.

Bryce Landon 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Wrong decision. He got hot at the right time, and I'm very happy he did, because it meant a Final Four appearance. But before that he was streaky at best. He needs another year or two under his belt.

Andy Tweedy 2 weeks, 1 day ago

I don't know, the NBA doesn't seem to like 22 year olds, Newman already seems like an old man for the NBA draft. Gotta strike while the iron is hot!

John Joseph Gorski 2 weeks ago

I agree he could use one more year to try and get to be a lottery pick but the one player Newman reminds me of was Wayne Seldon Jr. Newman's stats are comparable to Seldon's Jr year stats. Seldon, Chalmers and McLemore all play for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Tim Orel 1 week, 6 days ago

As another commenter said a few days ago, if he were to remain at KU, he'd be examined to see whether it was the post season or the regular season that was the real Malik. He'd have to put up 20+ per game every game, and with the talented roster KU has, he may not get that opportunity. I believe that now is his best chance, but I wouldn't mind his playing for KU another year.

Daniel Cummings 2 weeks, 1 day ago

All the best to you Malik! You are a class act and we know good things are ahead for you. I hope you know how much the Jayhawk Nation appreciates all you've given us these past two years and that you know you will always be one of us!

Steve Jacob 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Not sure why the rush the hire an agent, but OK.

James Donnell 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Malik is a special talent. For him to star in the pressure games at the end of the season with the best teams and best players means he's ready. He was a joy to watch. As is so often the case, we always want for more. But he ended up doing three years of college rather than the one he had planned on, so we can't complain too much. I think we all saw this coming with his late season success. I will never forget his form and confidence at the free throw line--so smooth. Good luck in the NBA!

Matt Stone 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Happy for Malik and remember watching him in Gardner KS at an AAU tourney along with many College coaches. Remember Diamond Stone standing behind me admiring Malik's game. After the match I told Malik that I hoped he would really consider KU as I thought he would love it. He later chose Mississippi St and I was disappointed. When he transferred I was excited to see what he could do and this year he matured and did well. Beginning of year I expected him to be the leading scorer but did have some bumps in the road. Still proud of the young man! Good luck in the NBA and RCJH! Romeo, you are next man up.

Robin Smith 2 weeks, 1 day ago

So glad we got to see him in a Kansas uniform. I'll be rooting for him at the next level.

Tony Bandle 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Random Thoughts:

1] Maybe not the best bball development decision but, definitely, the best business decision.

2] Malik's decision just took Marcus Garrett off the potential red shirt list.

3] Romeo has a choice; join a potential Final Four team with a HOF coach, loaded with talent so he isn't pressured to perform or join an up and coming coach and be the main man on a good but not yet great squad. I say right now it's a toss up.

4] Just one thought....why hasn't he declared already if he is so set on Vandy?

5] Malik...just don't get drafted by Sacramento....that's where careers go to die.

6] I don't know if any of you have seen Romeo in action but makes the all-time cool 'doo list!

Dee Shaw 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Good for Malik. Really enjoyed watching Malik this year. Good luck bud.

Jim Stauffer 2 weeks, 1 day ago

I am very happy he can chase his dream. Wish him nothing but the best. I'll bet he is happy Matt measured him so the world would know he has grown to 6'4" tall during the year. His future if he continues to grow like this might be as a stretch 4 in the league.

Jonathan Allison 2 weeks, 1 day ago

He definitely looked bigger in the postseason.

Early in the year I commented on how his play made him look smaller than he is. One thing he learned to do late was to initiate contact on his drives in order to neutralize the shot blocker. It's what Frank did so incredibly well. Early in the year Malik was avoiding contact and the shot blockers had all of the freedom of movement in order to time their jumps and block his shot. He still can improve in this area. Bill Self could create hours of study tapes of Frank Mason drives to show his guards how to attack the shot blockers. I hope that he does.

Ryan Zimmerman 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Is there really any thoughts of Dok leaving for anything? I mean I can see Vick doing it, just because he could get bumped down on the chart and seems like the player that would go overseas or the D league or something. But I don't seem Dok doing anything like that.

Jonathan Allison 2 weeks ago

I think that Dok should test the waters, get his feedback at the combine and then probably come back.

The thing about Dok is that he wants to do it in order to bring his family from Nigeria to a much better situation in America. He lost most of his freshman season to injury and almost lost his sophomore postseason to injury.

If he could be a first round pick this year then he may choose to go, rather than risk injury again in college and not improve his draft position or even cost him majorly.

There's a risk vs reward to factor in. I think that he will end up coming back because he seems like a kid who at 18 really loves his situation at KU and understands that by coming back he could really improve his situation by solidifying his first round draft status in 2019.

Freddie Garza 2 weeks ago

To me, we already know what Dok needs to work on, it doesn't take an NBA scout to tell him. He's obviously an NBA level rebounder right now, but he needs big improvement in his defensive footwork and he needs to develop some semblance of a low post game because right now he's just overpowering everybody. Won't be able to do that at the next level.

So improvement defensively in terms of figuring out how to stay out of foul trouble, improvement on his conditioning, and expansion of his offensive repertoire. No need to have an NBA scout say what we already know.

Barry Weiss 2 weeks ago

no surprise here. this is the best for him. his stock is at its peak. still hoping we land Romeo.

Freddie Garza 2 weeks ago

When he announced, the first thing I thought was "awesome for Malik!" Then I kind of wondered to myself if he and coach collaborated and went ahead and announced for the draft now with intent to hire an agent as a way to send a message to Romeo Langford that, hey, this spot is now open, all yours to compete for.

Eric TheCapn 2 weeks ago

I sincerely doubt it. If Coach Self thought potentially good probable-one-and-done player might come to KU were somehow better than Malik Newman as a sophomore leader: 1) Self would not be as successful as he is; 2) Self would prove he is not interested in national championships (or worse, thinks this move would give KU a better shot); 3) Self would not have the best interest of the program in mind; and 4) should go.

This was a decision made for the sake of Malik Newman and his family. Coach Self merely helped Malik Newman come to the decision that was best for Malik Newman, as he does with all players considering the NBA draft.

Eric TheCapn 2 weeks ago

Good luck, Malik.

I'm sorry to see this, because I longed for him to become the Keith-Langford-esque player KU's been missing missing for a decade and a half. He's my favorite type of player to watch and easily would have been my favorite player next season.

I guess it only takes three weekends of good basketball to go pro these days? I dunno, he's probably right to leave, as he may not have as much name recognition in a year's time and could lose playing time to a potentially great incoming class, but I really doubt it. He would have been the veteran-guard leader we will need with a bunch of newcomers.

I hope he lives up to his potential but am glad I decided to wait to buy a jersey with his name on it; he didn't spend the time to grow into K-Freeze's ever-changing shoes, but we will all remember him for winning the Big 12 Tournament and Elite 8 in 2018... though we might forget if he doesn't make it in the NBA.

Eric TheCapn 2 weeks ago

If I were to have to pick a a jersey of a 2018-19 Jayhawk today, it would be Mitch Lightfoot.... wowzers.

Tracey Graham 2 weeks ago

I don't understand this decision, because he will likely be drafted in the 2nd round or go undrafted. This is a very deep draft while next year's is projected to be much weaker. If he had a great season at KU in 2018-19, he might have been able to get into the first round of the 2019 Draft.

But it's his dream and his decision. So good luck to Malik. I'll miss watching him play for KU.

Mike Greer 2 weeks ago

No surprise about Malik, it's his dream and he's already delayed it two years. He tested the waters after his freshman year, he wasn't ready, that's what caused him to transfer to KU, with the ultimate goal to enter the NBA. The spectacular postseason run put him on the map, got everyone's attention, and he's at a high point in his career. Now is his best shot.

Dok should be back, he's still a work in progress. Silvio is a better rebounder, and Dok needs a game beyond the catch and dunk.

Henry Joseph Hofmeister 2 weeks ago

i agree with everything you said. i kinda see silvio as a power forward rather than a center. what are we doing with mitch as a center? these guys are not helping recruiting when we play them as centers instead of their natural position. forwards i think should be allowed to play outside if they rebound. posting up isn't in their natural game nor should it be.

Henry Joseph Hofmeister 2 weeks ago

the absolute best one and done is the one that wants to come here and then buys into the coaching. transfers are the best aside from taking schollies. if i could redo college i'd redshirt, transfer, graduate phd.

[''] 2 weeks ago

Scored all 13 KU points against Duke in the Elite 8 overtime game. That was a top-15 all-time KU performance. Rock Chalk 4 Life, Malik!

Lonnie Edgecomb 1 week, 6 days ago

I want Dok to come back, because I want to see him break a backboard. Am I the only one that thinks he could be the next O'Neal. Maybe it's the free throws. lol

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