CHICAGO – During Wednesday’s broadcast of the McDonald’s All American Game, ESPN analyst Jay Williams put Malik Newman on his list of top 5 NBA-ready players competing in the premiere high school event.
The five-star Callaway guard has proven himself to the nation throughout his young career. His four state championships in Mississippi and back-to-back gold medals and MVP honors with USA Basketball speak volumes.
While Williams sees the potential in what is at least two years away for Newman, the guard knows he isn’t there yet and is still learning different roles on the floor.
Newman’s West squad fell to the East team 111-91 in a game where the 6-foot-3 shooter morphed into a point guard.
His style of play on Wednesday had its obvious differences. Newman wasn’t scoring his usual 30-plus points per game, shooting deep 3-pointers or playing above the rim.
Instead, the Callaway product worked through the new role his West coaches had him take on for the all-star event.
Newman’s time in Chicago was a chance for him to see how he matched up against 23 of the nation’s other top players and show that he can distribute just as well as he can shoot.
During Wednesday’s game, Newman scored one point, two rebounds and had a game-high five assists.
That stat line could appear as a struggle. Or it can be viewed as a true shooter working in to a new role.
“He makes great choices with the ball,” South Carolina commit P.J. Dozier said. “In the past at camps I just saw him shoot the ball a lot and make a lot of shots. Everyone displays him as a shooter but I see he has the passing ability as well.”
Newman has never been labeled strictly as a point guard or scoring guard but rather a combination of the both. During his career at Callaway, the hype surrounding Newman was that he could do it all.
At the McDonald’s All American practices earlier in the week, the guard scored off the pick and roll, found bigs Stephen Zimmerman and Ivan Rabb on the wing to knock down jump shots and controlled the pace of the game.
West assistant coach Fred Sculfield from Chicago’s Simeon Career Academy called Newman “electrifying” and that his improvements at running the point since he arrived in Chicago were noticeable.
His teammates echoed that sentiment.
“Malik is a really great player, he knows how to adapt,” five-star power forward Ivan Rabb said. “He’s not going to take as many shots if he’s playing point guard so I think he made great adjustments.”
His transition to playing the point came against the nation’s elite. Newman’s West coaches emphasized a need to control the pace of the game and gave him other helpful hints to adapt to a new role.
“My decision making. When I get tired I make some poor decisions and Coach (Robert Smith) was really on me about that,” Newman said after practice earlier in the week.
With a busy month of April ahead of him with the Nike Hoop Summit on April 11 and Jordan Brand Classic on the 17th, Newman will likely play the point again while surrounded by elite competition. Wednesday was just the beginning for what we could see in the future for the nation’s No. 4 player.
Contact Courtney Cronin at (601) 961-7091 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @CourtneyRCronin on Twitter.