This has been an exciting spring for the basketball program at Mississippi State University. Former UCLA head coach Ben Howland was hired in March after the firing of Rick Ray. Coach Howland has led 3 different programs to the NCAA tournament and led the UCLA Bruins to three Final Four appearances in a row from 2006-2008. Throughout his years at UCLA, Howland was a great recruiter coaching future NBA players such as Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, and Darren Collison. After being hired by MSU, Howland promised top tier recruiting talent and he delivered with the signing of Mississippi’s very own McDonald’s All American, Malik Newman. Newman has been one of the nation’s top prospects since he first arrived at Callaway High School and he is already projected as a first round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. With the addition of Newman, MSU finally has a player that can dictate the way opposing defenses play. Signing Malik Newman was the only way Coach Howland could make an immediate impact in the program. I also believe Malik Newman made the perfect decision for his college career and here are three reasons why:
- The Money Effect
Put more talent on the court and more people will want to watch. For the past few seasons, Humphrey Coliseum hasn’t had the attendance that the program had grown accustomed to during Rick Stansbury’s tenure. With the signing of Malik Newman and Quinndary Weatherspoon game attendance should increase. If game attendance increase that means more money for the program. More talent also means more nationally televised games especially when the MSU matches up against the notable programs of the SEC. Nationally televised games will give the MSU program a chance to be watched all over the US and a chance for Newman to become a household name.
- The Development of Malik Newman
At 6’3, Malik Newman is a shooting guard in a point guard’s body. I believe the reason Malik chose MSU was based around the chance to develop into a point guard before making the jump to the NBA. Kentucky and Kansas are pretty set at the point guard position so MSU made sense. Coach Howland has developed several point guards into NBA point guards such as Darren Collison, Jordan Farmar, and Russell Westbrook. At MSU, Malik will have to chance to show NBA scouts that he can run a team. He will have a chance to develop into a playmaker and a primary ball handler. And he will have a chance to develop a pick and roll game.
- Recruiting Resurgence
Signing a top tier player like Malik Newman and a great recruiter at head coach will boost a rebuilding program’s recruiting capabilities. Top prospects look at programs to provide a good winning environment and provide a place where they can play without restraints. If Malik Newman plays well and helps put MSU basketball back on the map, future recruiting will be positively affected. Even if Malik is a “1 and done” player, prospects will want to emulate what he did while in a MSU uniform. Ball dominating guards will want to play for Coach Howland based off of Malik’s college career.