Newman transfers to Kansas

Published 8:36 pm Friday, July 1, 2016

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Two years ago, when he was one of the most sought-after high school recruits in the country, Malik Newman strongly considered going to Kansas.

He’s finally on his way.

The Jackson native and former Callaway star, who signed with Mississippi State and played there last season, announced Friday that he is transferring to Kansas. Newman will be forced to redshirt during the upcoming season and will be classified as a sophomore beginning in 2017-18.

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Newman told ESPN that he also took visits to North Carolina State, Oregon and Western Kentucky.

“I’m glad they (Kansas) wanted me again,” Newman told ESPN. “I love the basketball culture at Kansas, the way Bill Self holds guys accountable and love the atmosphere.”

The 6-foot-3 guard started 21 of 29 games as a freshman at Mississippi State last season, averaging 11.3 points. He hit seven 3-pointers and scored 25 points in a game against rival Ole Miss.

Newman declared for the NBA draft following the season, but chose to return to school after the annual scouting combine. At that point, he decided to continue his career at a different school.

Newman said the opportunity to sit out a year and improve his game against one of the nation’s top backcourts — Devonte’ Graham and Frank Mason III — played into his decision. Mason will be a senior in 2016-17, while Graham is a junior.

“It’s the right place for me to be,” Newman told ESPN. “I can compete against those guys every day, and that will make me better. It also allows me to get comfortable with the system.”

In high school, Newman led Callaway to four consecutive MHSAA Class 5A championships, including the 2014 title over Vicksburg High. He averaged 25.0 points per game in his high school career and was rated as one of the top 10 recruits in the country.

Newman was widely seen as a one-and-done player who would quickly head to the NBA, but told ESPN that he struggled with his confidence in his one season at Mississippi State.

“I can’t lie,” Newman said. “I was playing at times with a sense of worrying about making a mistake, and that’s not the way I need to be playing.”

Kansas coach Bill Self said he recruited Newman hard coming out of high school, and that his coaching staff jumped at getting a second chance with him. Self said the year Newman will spend as a redshirt will help him to address the things NBA scouts wanted to see out of him.

“In our opinion, Malik was a top-five player coming out of high school,” Self said in a release issued by Kansas. “He’s a combo guard that has good size, can really shoot the ball and stretch it. There are things he needs to get better at, but the year off will allow him to address things that the NBA people wanted to see more of out of him. Even though it didn’t happen the first time for us, we were excited to know we are getting a fabulous talent — just a year later than what we originally planned.”