Malik Newman making the most of his transfer season
Malik Newman can’t suit up for the Kansas basketball team this season, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t made an impact elsewhere.
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Newman, who is sitting out the season because of NCAA transfer rules, has played well on the scout team in practices. That's given confidence to his teammates and coaches that he will be ready for a big role next year.
In his one season at Mississippi State, Newman averaged 11.3 points per game. He was a 38 percent shooter from the 3-point line and made free throws at a 69 percent clip.
“He’s a terrific talent,” KU coach Bill Self said on his Hawk Talk radio show earlier this week. “He's had a really good year. I think that the transfer year has helped him from a strength standpoint and certainly from a physical standpoint. I do believe that it’d be hard to keep him out of the starting lineup next year, regardless of who’s back.”
The Jayhawks could feature a vastly differently lineup next season if juniors Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk decide to enter the NBA draft. National player of the year Frank Mason III will graduate.
Along with Newman in the backcourt, the Jayhawks will add Arizona State transfer Sam Cunliffe — he’s eligible to play after the end of the first semester — and incoming freshman guard Marcus Garrett.
Newman will likely make his unofficial KU debut when the Jayhawks travel to Italy in the summer on their latest trip abroad.
Before then, Self would like to add a point guard who can complement Newman’s strengths. Newman only averaged 2.2 assists per game at Mississippi State.
“I don’t really see Malik as a point guard,” Self said. “I see him as a combo guard that can maybe play a little bit of point. But he needs to have a free mind to go score. That’s what he does. That’s naturally what he does. We’ve got to, hopefully, sign another guard so we can even take more advantage of that.”
Throughout his season of sitting out, Newman — the eighth-ranked player in the Class of 2015 by Rivals — has helped the Jayhawks in practice on the “Red” team, which serves as the scout team for the starters.
Self noted that the “Red” team, which features reserves Mitch Lightfoot, Dwight Coleby, the team’s walk-ons and Cunliffe, have lost big in some scrimmage settings but are capable of some surprise wins.
"I think if Malik was eligible now," Self said, "he'd be playing a ton.... There’s no question that Malik’s had a good year."