Malik Newman has been good, but not great, in 2015-16, but don’t let it fool you into thinking he’ll stick around for more than a year.
When Malik Newman signed this past spring to play for Mississippi State basketball, I was a little concerned something like what we are witnessing would happen. He’s been really good as a Bulldog, but he hasn’t just lit the world on fire. Now, there are a lot of Bulldog fans who think he will be back for one more season.
It isn’t happening.
Things haven’t gone as well for Newman as he nor the Mississippi State Bulldogs would like. He started the season off with a turf toe injury, and he was severely hampered in the first few games of the season.
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The previous five games before this past Saturday’s tilt with Arkansas saw significant improvement in Newman’s all around game. But the highly touted player struggled in one of his worst games of the season in Fayetteville. He had just nine points, two turnovers, and no assists.
Many of the biggest fears people had about Newman coming to Mississippi State would be the inability of anyone else on the roster to shoulder the load and help carry this team. It would allow the opposition to key on Newman and force everyone else to step up in ways they haven’t shown they can.
Gavin Ware has answered the bell, but very few of the other players have. This has led to Malik Newman’s draft stock taking a fall because some are questioning his ability to create shots off the dribble. He’s still considered a first round prospect, but not necessarily a lottery pick anymore. There is a possibility he could fall to the second round of the NBA Draft, but he wouldn’t fall far past the first or second choice in the second round if that were to happen.
And as much as the average Mississippi State fan might want to see Malik Newman on the same floor next season with Quinndary Weatherspoon and the highly ranked recruiting class coming to Starkville in 2016-17, it wouldn’t be good for the Bulldogs or Newman in the long term. It would hurt for two reasons.
For Malik Newman, the moment you don’t live up to what you are supposed to be, scouts stop looking favorably on you at all. If Newman were to come back for a second year, his game would be further questioned and doubted by officials at the next level. It would be a disaster for a plyer who sacrificed a lot by coming to a school that was at the beginning of a monstrous rebuild.
For the Bulldogs, opposing coaches would have ammunition against Ben Howland on the recruiting trail. Malik Newman was billed as a one and done player, and other coaches could easily say Howland has lost his touch. Go play for him and you no longer prosper, but you regress.
Everyone involved needs Malik Newman to be in the NBA in 2016-17. The collateral damage to him not would be far reaching for a program trying to build itself back up to where it was during the height of the Rick Stansbury and Richard Williams era. A huge game tonight against the Kentucky Wildcats would go a long way to making sure he is.