Malik Newman won’t be going out of state to play college basketball.
Instead he will stay within in the state of Mississippi and play in the Southeastern Conference.
The five-star Callaway guard signed with Mississippi State Friday. He put on an MSU hat and rang a cowbell as he announced his decision in front of friends and family.
“I think it’s somewhere I can really have an impact. I think with the new coach, he will push me,” Newman said after making a verbal commitment to play for the Bulldogs.
Newman’s recruitment has been an ongoing saga for almost two years. He drew interest from Kansas, Kentucky, LSU and Ole Miss among others. Former Bulldog head coach Rick Ray and his staff recruited Newman heavily, but he was let go after this past season ended.
Ben Howland was hired in March and Newman is the first big win for the former UCLA coach.
Newman, the best player in the state, joins Mississippi’s second best player Quinndary Weatherspoon of Velma Jackson in this year’s recruiting class for the Bulldogs. Also in the class is Carver, Ala., forward Joseph Strugg.
“Me & bro on the way,” Weatherspoon tweeted Friday afternoon with a picture of him and Newman.
With what MSU returns from last year’s squad – five seniors, four that have played extensive minutes – Newman is excited about the upcoming season in Starkville.
“I think we’ll be a great team next year,” Newman said.
He is the highest-rated player to commit, sign and play for MSU. Monta Ellis committed and signed with the Bulldogs in 2005, but never made it to campus as he was taken in the NBA Draft out of high school.
Newman, who played in the McDonald’s All American game in Chicago earlier this year, averaged 29.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists in leading the Callaway Chargers to a Class 5A State Championship this past season.
Newman’s father, Horatio Webster – a former Mississippi State forward in the late 1990s – never saw his son get caught up in the recruiting process. Rather, he saw Newman focuses on his game.
“He cared about getting better,” Webster said. “He wasn’t caught up in the bright lights. He ignored all that.”
Newman is expected to be a one-and-done player and he wanted to find a program that would give him an easy road to the next level. Howland has put 18 players in the NBA during his years as a coach of Pittsburgh and UCLA.