The Mississippi State basketball team has two talented freshmen who may or may not be with the team after the 2015-2016 season.
There has been a lot of discussion about how likely the two Mississippi State basketball freshmen Quinndary Weatherspoon and Malik Newman will play in the NBA after this season. I had originally said I believed Malik Newman would be a one-and-done, but since I wrote that piece, things have changed.
The NCAA has changed the rules on allowing players to declare for the draft in basketball. Players can now declare for the draft, but they have a much larger window to withdraw their name. Anyone who decides to enter the draft can now go to the combine and get further feedback from pro scouts, and if they are hearing from those scouts they won’t go as high as they would like, then they can withdraw their name without sacrificing their eligibility.
The Mississippi State basketball team hammered the Arkansas Razorbacks 78-46 on Tuesday night at Humphrey Coliseum. Quinndary Weatherspoon continued to impress with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Malik Newman continued his up and down ways with 6 points on 3-8 field goal attempts. More debate about how both would fare at the next level surfaced once again.
I saw Sam Vecenie, who covers the NBA Draft and college basketball for CBS, tweeting about Malik Newman, so I decided to ask him about the two freshmen for the Mississippi State basketball team. Here is what he said.
Vecenie seems to think Weatherspoon could play at the next level, but his size needs to be as close to the 6’4″ he is listed at by the Mississippi State basketball team. The case for Newman appears to be more complicated.
The bad situation is in reference to a couple of things Vecenie tweeted right before I started asking about the two players. Vecenie was talking about the skill set of Newman and how it meshes with the coaching style and philosophy of Ben Howland.
There’s two things that need to be addressed in these statements. The first is how Newman would thrive in a pick and roll system, but the Mississippi State basketball team almost never runs pick and roll plays. Basketball and football are so much about having the right skills match up with the right system, and so far, the match between what Newman does well and the offense Howland has been running aren’t meshing.
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But this could be due to the second issue to be addressed. The Mississippi State basketball team, outside of last night, isn’t good. It’s been one of the things we have talked about since the season began, but it needs to be repeated. The only people in the country who thought this team was going to be good were Mississippi State basketball fans. Everyone else saw all of the problems with this roster.
For three seasons, Rick Ray took a team that relied heavily on freshmen and coached them in a way in which none of them developed at all. For all of the accolades Ben Howland has accomplished in his career, he can’t wave a magic wand and automatically have players who were never properly developed suddenly become high quality basketball players. It doesn’t work that way.
Probably the most important thing Vecenie said in any of those tweets applied to Newman, but I think it can also be said of Weatherspoon as well. On the Mississippi State basketball team as it is currently constructed, they are really hard to evaluate. The talent is obvious, but how can you make it work at the next level?
My best guess for both of them is they will insert their name into the draft, and take advantage of the new rules. They’ll get feedback from the scouts who evaluate them, and then make a decision on if they should stay in the draft or come back to school. My gut feeling is scouts will tell them to go back so they can be evaluated better.
The Mississippi State basketball team will get a significant talent boost with their 2016 signing class. The basketball IQ and potential of the players Ben Howland signed will allow the skills of Malik Newman and Quinndary Weatherspoon to flourish. They could truly show what they are capable of when they aren’t having to overcome the limitations of the roster. It will be interesting to see how it plays out for both of them this summer.