If new Mississippi State coach Ben Howland wanted to make a splash with his first signee, he emptied the pool on Friday.
Howland, who was named the Bulldogs’ 20th head coach just a little more than four weeks ago, made an immediate impact on the program with the signing of the highly-touted Malik Newman, a five-star standout guard from Callaway in Jackson.
Newman, a McDonald’s All-American who is rated as the No. 1 shooting guard in the country by ESPN, comes to MSU after leading the Chargers to their fourth-straight Class 5A state crown this past March.
“This just feels so great,” said Newman, who totaled 3,108 points, 651 rebounds, 301 assists and 195 steals while leading the Chargers to an overall ledger of 114-16. “ I feel like I have some heavy weight off my shoulders. I’m just so happy to be a part of the Bulldog family. I’ve now got to get with the coaches and see what all they want me to work on. I want to come here ready to go and knowing the offense.”
As a senior, the 6-foot-3, 175-pound standout, recruited by nearly every Division I school, averaged 29.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists as his team finished ranked third nationally by USA Today with a 31-3 record. In the title game against Ridgeland, he poured in 27 points en route to earning MVP honors for the third time.
Newman, who had his No. 14 jersey retired by Calloway earlier this year, is certainly no stranger to the MSU family, as his father, Horatio Webster, played at Mississippi State from 1997-98.
“This is a very big day for Mississippi State and our men‘s basketball program,” said Howland, who has sent 19 players to the NBA. “Malik Newman is one of the top players in the country in the senior class of 2015. It’s a very special day and a huge day for our program to have him come to Starkville and help lead our program next year. He is a very talented player who has great ability to score the basketball and make plays for others. He’s an exceptional athlete, and most of all, he’s a great competitor.
“I’m very excited he is joining us. It’s a huge step for us next year and adding a player of his caliber is a great day for Mississippi State. It’s truly special that Malik is following in the footsteps of his father, Horatio Webster. To have Malik play his college career for the Mississippi State Bulldogs, we are extremely elated beyond expression.”
The accolades are nearly countless for Newman.
A two-time Mr. Basketball in the state of the Mississippi, he was also a named to the Clarion Ledger’s Dandy Dozen team three times. In addition to playing in the McDonald’s All-American game, he’s participated in both the Nike Guard Skills Academy and the LeBron James Skills Academy.
He was also a member of Team USA squad that captured the 2014 FIBA U17 Championship with a 99-92 win against Australia. In that game, Newman collected MVP honors after scoring 21 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
He also won the gold medal at the 2013 FIBA U16 Championship and earned MVP honors after averaging 16.2 points and collecting 16 steals in five games.
In 2013, he became just one of three freshmen or sophomores ever to earn the Clarion-Ledger Metro Player of the Year, joining Monta Ellis and Othella Harrington.
(From MSU Media Relations)