Malik Newman arrived at Mississippi State expecting to be a one-and-done player.
Newman took another step into turning that into reality on Tuesday by announcing he will test the NBA waters but also left the door open to returning the Bulldogs for his sophomore season.
“I will be pursuing my dream of trying to play in the NBA,” Newman said. “I’m still leaving the option open that if I don’t hear the news that I don’t want to hear, I will be attending Mississippi State again next year.”
A new rule implemented this year allows college prospects to workout for and receive feedback from NBA teams and still return to college as long as they do not hire an agent. Newman does not plan to hire an agent while he goes through this process.
“This was the plan from the first day that I met Malik and started recruiting him,” said MSU coach Ben Howland. “We expected that he would put his name in the draft and explore this opportunity this year so this is not anything that was unexpected.”
Newman will have until May 25 to return to MSU. He will continue to take online classes during this process in order to keep himself academically eligible should he decide to come back to college.
The 6-foot-3 guard from Jackson stated there was no specific draft number he was looking for but is hoping for something in the first round.
“If it’s second round, I’m pretty sure I’ll be back,” Newman said.
Newman played in 29 games during his freshman campaign for the Bulldogs with 22 starts. He finished fourth on the team averaging 11.3 points, shooting 39.1 percent from the field and was second on the school’s all-time 3-point list for freshmen with 61.
Injuries also played a part in Newman’s first collegiate season. He sustained turf toe, back and knee injuries during the year which kept him out of two games entirely.
“I think the injuries were kind of a setback throughout the season,” Newman said. “With my body now healthy and me being 100 percent, I think I’ll be a totally different player.”
If Newman does decide to return for his sophomore season, Howland will welcome him back with open arms.
“If we had Malik and (Quinndary Weatherspoon) back, we’d have an unbelievable nucleus of two of the best guards returning in the league,” Howland said. “Selfishly, it’s something I’d be excited about. But I think this is going to be a great process and Malik is really going to grow from this. Either way, he’s going to come out ahead.”
Howland also announced Tuesday that Weatherspoon would be back as a sophomore.