Saturday, July 2, 2016

Howard happy to welcome Newman

New KU basketball signee Malik Newman officially announced his decision to transfer to Kansas on Friday, July 1.

New KU basketball signee Malik Newman officially announced his decision to transfer to Kansas on Friday, July 1.


Kansas University basketball assistant Jerrance Howard, who had spent two years recruiting Mississippi high school phenom Malik Newman, remembers the disappointment felt on April 24, 2015 — the day’s No. 8-rated player announced for Mississippi State over KU and Kentucky.

“Most definitely,” Howard recalled, asked if the agony of defeat, signified by Newman wearing an MSU cap and ringing a cowbell in a news conference at Callaway High School in Jackson, Miss., was real. “Coach (Bill) Self will tell you I had a bad attitude a couple weeks after that.”

Howard was speaking on Friday, the day 6-foot-3, 190-pound combo guard Newman chose KU as his transfer destination over Oregon, North Carolina State, Western Kentucky and Miami.

“Fourteen times. Seven during the school year both years,” Howard said, asked how many trips he made to Mississippi in pursuit of the McDonald’s All-American. “We never missed a (AAU) game in the summertime. Once I couldn’t go,” Howard added, who on that one occasion was attending to a death in his family.

“I spent a lot of time at the high school, got to know his high school coach. One of the assistant coaches was a KU fan. We just couldn’t get over the hump. Mississippi State being close to home. Dad played there,” he added of Horatio Webster, Malik’s father. “They had a lot of momentum switch when coach (Ben) Howland got the (MSU) job. It was really tough. He (Newman) is probably the best scorer I’ve seen in 11 years of coaching, definitely the best scorer of any recruit. He has a natural niche in scoring the ball.”

Howard, the lead recruiter on KU’s staff in the pursuit of Newman, was so liked by Malik and Horatio they almost felt guilty choosing MSU the first time.

“Oh my gosh, yes indeed,” Webster said, asked if he respects the work Howard, Self and the rest of KU’s coaches put in recruiting his son. “Coach Howard and Malik have developed a great relationship. It was like, had they not hired coach Howland in the last hour, then the kid was going to Kansas.”

“I’ve repaid him (Howard) for all those times,” Malik said with a laugh. “He is like family. That’s how close we got. Even now, before I committed, I could text him, ‘What’s up. How are you doing?’ It’s more than basketball with him,” Malik added.

Accepting Newman’s decision gracefully the first time had to help KU’s chances in landing Newman the transfer the second go-round.

“As a staff and coaches, we put a lot of work in,” Howard said. “The kid liked Kansas the first time. You can’t knock a kid for staying home and going to dad’s alma mater. It’s why it is really important you handle things the right way whether you get a kid or not. There were no hard feelings. We kept a good relationship and wished them the best.”

The Newmans contacted KU shortly after the decision was made to bolt Mississippi State after one season in which Malik averaged 11.3 ppg.

“They said, ‘Is there still interest?’ We said, ‘Most definitely,’’’ Howard said. “Coach Self was good in explaining it all. He said, ‘This is business strictly, it’s all about basketball and school. It has to be the right fit. If you want to reach your goals we feel we can help you.’ We weren’t going to play around and call and kiss his butt,” Howard added. “We didn’t want that. He and his dad didn’t want that. They said they were happy to get a second chance.”

Now Newman is preparing to come to campus Tuesday for second session of summer school, and the Jayhawks will begin coaching an elite offensive talent.

“A lot of it is in his blood. His dad was a big-time scorer at Mississippi State,” Howard said. “He (dad) had him in the gym at a young age. He scores a lot like Keith (Langford), mid-range, off the dribble, off the catch, from three. He’s a big-time scorer and it’s natural. I feel we’re getting a steal. At one point his junior year he was ranked No. 1 in the country. He’s been through the fire, got some experience at Mississippi State. Being able to sit out a year and go against Josh (Jackson), Frank (Mason), Devonté (Graham) will be good for everybody.”

Regarding his offensive game, Newman, who averaged 29.7 ppg his senior year at Callaway, said: “My father, my uncles did a good job of getting me in the gym. Whenever I told them there was something I needed help on, they made it a main point to make it one of my strengths.

“Doing things hundreds and hundreds of times it started to get to be second nature.”

Webster said simply that his son, “was born to put the basketball in the goal. That’s what he’s been blessed with.”

Last year, Newman was saddled with a nagging foot injury that obstructed his game, Webster said. Also Malik had some problems changing his game while trying to facilitate more for others at the point. Overall, MSU had a 14-17 record, which is something Newman is not used to. He figures to get back on the winning track at KU.

“What we liked is he’s a winner, He’s been winning since sixth grade,” Howard said. Newman in fact was MVP of USA Basketball’s gold-medal winning Under 16 and 17 championship teams.

“As long as you win,” Newman said, “everything else is being taken care of. At the end of the day it’s what basketball boils down to, who wins. You win and everybody loves you.”


Gerry Butler 6 years ago

Sweet to have Malik.- - -Ok, just have a question, simply cause I just plain don't know. Not trying to imply, anything or stir up controversy or anything like that. It's just simply I don't know so just curious. Is Malik like possibly borderline on grades and staying eligible? Just wondering if he was close or struggling on grades also at Mississippi St ? - - Again the only reason I'm asking is why he is going to attend summer school? Is that a common practice with students?- - transfers? Players? OR is he struggling- - -maybe having to take some summer courses to stay eligible?- -- I seriously don't know. Think he is going to be a nice pick up for us.- - - Welcome Malik- - - Thanks guys if you can answer this for me.

Creg Bohrer 6 years ago

That's a good question. I've heard a few people questioning his grades, could be some people from MSU spreading rumors to try to get even or there could be some truth to it either we'll know the truth soon enough.

Marius Rowlanski 6 years ago

Creg - any info on those you heard questioning his grades?

Creg Bohrer 6 years ago

It was just some comments from a couple people on ESPN, not any reporters just people commenting. That's why I think it's just rumors.

Michael Bratisax 6 years ago

If he left MSU thinking he would get drafted - he could have neglected his spring glasses but since he returned I'm inclined to think it;s BS. Worst case scenario is that he has a year to get his grades in order.

PS: I really was just being a smart ass before. No malicious intent. Jay can speak for himself but his quick wit are often the highlight of some of these articles.

Creg Bohrer 5 years, 12 months ago

I don't think we have anything to worry about either, like you said if he quit going to classes he's got time to make them up. Now we just need to add a couple more to compliment him because I'm pretty sure we're going to lose more than just Frank next year.

Michael Bratisax 6 years ago

Just for the record, don't take any comments personal that fall into the smartass range. No malicious intent. Poor taste possibly but I try not to let things get personal.

Marius Rowlanski 6 years ago

Creg..just for the record, I wasn't trying to make a personal attack the other day. Just being a smartass with no malicious intent.

Creg Bohrer 5 years, 12 months ago

No worries water under the bridge I had a little case of the smartass myself. I get a little carried away at times.

Eliott Reeder 6 years ago

I'm pretty sure almost all of our players, other than Svi, who is overseas, take classes and work out during the summer session.

Dirk Medema 6 years ago

When on full scholarship in a major sport, it is fairly common practice for the players to take summer school classes. If you complete 1 class per session, that means being able to take 1 less class per semester. That could make a huge difference when trying to meet all the other demands.

No knowledge of Malik's particular situation, and guessing that there is virtually no credible info available because grades are not public info. More likely some unhappy bulldog pup.

Robert Brock 6 years ago

Howard has gotten two high-level recruits now - Cliff Alexander and Malik Newman. Let's hope that Newman performs better than Cliff did.

John Randall 6 years ago

It's kind of a cheap shot to downgrade Cliff for what he wasn't to blame - or maybe even aware of ... hope his mom is enjoying paying off the debt she rang up as soon as she got the chance.

Beate Williams 6 years ago

Remember something from this past week saying he was a good student. He maintained a "B" average in high school, how that transferred to college I can't say. He seems to be pretty intelligent regarding how he had responded to press questions.

I believe all the players go to summer school so they don't have to take such a head load during the academic year. All recruits have been coming in the summer, most for both sessions and other for simply the second session. I think this is part of Self's plan in getting them acclimated to the college environment and also give them an opportunity to learn something about how things will go once practices really start.

I would think if he were having academic problems Self would not have pursued; additionally, I think it only rational to believe if academics is a problem, he would have gone overseas to avoid that problem, if it in fact existed.

Dirk Medema 6 years ago

It's also worth noting that at least dad was a college student (graduate?). Doesn't guarantee anything, but so much of being able to learn is being shown that it is important and how to go about learning - especially from an early age.

Gerry Butler 6 years ago

Hey thanks a lot guys the information is really appreciated from all of you. Again not trying to imply he did have bad grades by any means- - I just flat out didn't know, really blind on this. Makes sense though to take some summer school- - make a little easier load during season yes? I really was just trying to figure out why, I feel better with the info though, again makes sense- - I think we are getting him at a really good time, we stand a very good chance of being hit really hard by the N.B.A next yr. Frank graduates, Josh is for sure a one and done- - -I think chances are SVI will go N.B.A. or at least test for sure, and Devonte depending on his yr might go also- -soo is big we have him for 2017. Thanks again to everyone. ROCK CHALK ALL DAY LONG BABY

Kit Duncan 6 years ago

It may just be that, to use the facilities at KU and participate in the two hours a week of coaching, he first has to be enrolled as a student.

Marius Rowlanski 6 years ago

I'm sure he is registered/enrolled for the fall but that doesn't mean he needs to be enrolled this summer. He only announced June 30th.

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