By JOEL COLEMAN
When Malik Newman signed with Mississippi State in 2015, the consensus was he’d be a one-and-done player for the Bulldogs. Most didn’t see it happening this way though.
Nearly a week after Newman pulled his name out of the National Basketball Association Draft, Mississippi State confirmed on Monday that Newman is transferring.
“I appreciate all of Malik’s hard work, and I wish him the very best moving forward,” Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland said. “I want nothing but the best for Malik and his family.”
In Newman’s only season at State, the Jackson native was hampered by injuries, but appeared in 29 games and drew 22 starts. He averaged 11.3 points, 2.2 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game.
The highlight of Newman’s MSU career came as he scored a career-best 25 points against Ole Miss in an 83-77 win over the Rebels in January at Humphrey Coliseum.
By Newman transferring, NCAA rules will require him to sit out the 2016-17 season wherever he winds up. That was a price Newman was willing to pay though according to his father and former MSU basketball player Horatio Webster.
Webster said the decision-making process wasn’t easy.
“It was a hard decision, especially for me,” Webster said. “I just think that Malik’s style of play didn’t fit (Howland’s) system and that’s what it was.”
Webster said Newman’s thoughts of transferring began to take root shortly after the conclusion of last season.
“Malik sat down and we thought about it and we looked at it and it was just like he would like a little more opportunity to have the ball in his hands,” Webster said. “With I.J. (Ready) being a great point guard and they’ve got a great point guard coming in from Louisiana, we just thought he would be stuck at the two-guard again and wouldn’t get a chance to develop his game. He’s been real successful throughout high school and everything else with the ball in his hands, so that was the only issue.”
Webster stated Newman hasn’t had any conversations yet with other schools. That all will come in time. For now though, Webster made clear there are no hard feelings between Newman and Howland.
“There isn’t any bad blood,” Webster said. “He respects Ben. I think Ben is a great coach. You look at his resume. How could you argue with that? Ben knows exactly what he’s doing.
“Nobody is questioning anything Ben did. I think that Ben did a great job and he gave us some great advice on the way out the door, so you’ve got to respect that about the man. He’s a class act.”