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Can Kansas sophomore Malik Newman play some point guard?

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Blue Team guard Malik Newman drives to the bucket against Red Team guard Keith Langford during a scrimmage on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center.

Blue Team guard Malik Newman drives to the bucket against Red Team guard Keith Langford during a scrimmage on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center. by Nick Krug

Kansas sophomore Malik Newman got the opportunity on Wednesday to show off his point guard skills for a portion of the annual camp scrimmage, won, 82-75, by the current team over a star-studded cast of former Jayhawks.

And it came against some of the best point guards of the Bill Self era.

Sure, there may be an age gap. And, whether because of age or injury or both, it’s hard to imagine that any of them were in as good of shape as Newman. But still, these were big time players. Names like Mario Chalmers, Russell Robinson and Sherron Collins, along with others, all took a turn at guarding and going at Newman.

The Mississippi State transfer finished with 18 points and seemed both completely comfortable and wildly excited about the opportunity to face some of these former Kansas greats, many of whom walked away impressed.

“They’re gonna be great,” said Chalmers after the scrimmage of Newman and senior-to-be Devonte’ Graham. “I have high expectations for both of them, especially Malik Newman. They’ve got to pick up the slack from Frank (Mason) and they’re two good guards we need up top.”

Asked specifically if he thought Newman could play the point, Chalmers, the eight-year NBA veteran who, after a year and a half off to recover from a variety of injuries, is eagerly looking forward to his own return, was not willing to make any concrete statements either way.

“This was the first time I’ve seen Malik play,” he said. “So, just from this game, it’d be hard to tell just because this is an all-star game and everybody wants to shoot and go at it. But coach Self will make sure that he has a point guard, I’m not worried about that.”

Newman himself said playing on the ball was something he worked on a great deal during his transfer year, both to grow his own game and also for the good of the team.

“With the sit-out year, that’s something that I worked on a lot because I know Devonte’ isn’t gonna be able to bring the ball up the whole game by himself,” he said.

Regardless of who has the ball in his hands the most — all signs point to Graham running the point the majority of the time, but Newman and even Lagerald Vick, Svi Mykhailiuk and freshman Marcus Garrett also may take a turn next season — the reality of Newman’s growth in that area is that the Jayhawks, as head coach Bill Self likes, now figure to feature a versatile and balanced backcourt.

As for Self’s take on Newman, he’s not all that interested in labels.

“I think Malik’s just a guard,” Self told the Journal-World earlier this spring. “He can play with the ball in his hands, but he’s probably better off the ball. He and Devonte’ could obviously be a nice combination.”

In scoring 46 points against some of KU’s biggest names of the recent past, the duo showed exactly that on Wednesday.

And from the sound of things, they’re just getting started.

“It was good,” Newman said of his pseudo first game in a Kansas uniform. “That’s why I came here, to play with an awesome group of guys and in front of a great crowd. And I think we did good for our first time together.”

Comments

John Fitzgerald 4 months, 1 week ago

I'm surprised you guys haven't done a story on Bob Stoops retiring since 1.) OU is in the Big 12, 2.) it was a huge surprise, and 3.) Lincoln Riley, who is Garrets older brother (KU's QB coach I believe?), is taking over. Could we see Lincoln poach Garret from us? (Sorry I'm posting this on a basketball article)

Harlan Hobbs 4 months, 1 week ago

No problem, John. You raise some interesting thoughts.

As for the article, I do believe that Malik Newman could be the key guy for KU this year, especially if he can play some point guard to relieve Devonte on occasions. If Udoka remains healthy and can provide a major force inside, then KU should have an inside-out game that is as good, if not better than, this past year's.

Mike Greer 4 months, 1 week ago

The articles don't mention playing time, so it's difficult to tell how effective everyone was or could be, but it looked like 4 guys put in most of the points, lead by Devonté, Malik, Dok, and Mitch. It's a long way to late night and the non conference games, but these veteran players along with Vick seemed to be the guys with the points. With Svi in Europe, isn't Devonté the lone senior, seems like he took over the scrimmage. He has to be the most comfortable playing against the old guard. I can't wait for football season to start, that means basketball isn't far behind ;)

Dirk Medema 4 months, 1 week ago

The title is a bit of a silly question given the fact that Malik played the point at MSU. I thought there were comments when he came here though that he came so he could play off the ball more, which fits in completely with Coach's comment.

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