According to Horatio Webster, there's a two part reason as to why his son, 2015 guard Malik Newman is considered the top guard in the country in his class. Tireless work ethic which comes from a love of the game, combined with some God given talent, equals a talented prospect who will have a chance to be the best player to come out of his home-state of Mississippi in some time.
A 6-foot-3 rising sophomore guard from Jackson (Miss.) Calloway High School, Newman is considered by most publications to be a sure fire five-star prospect in the 2015 class, some scouts who specialize in ranking younger prospects have even gone as far as to say that he's the number one prospect in that class.
"Malik Newman is a powerful and athletic combo guard who specializes in the most important thing in basketball, putting the ball in the hoop," said Rivals.com national basketball recruiting analyst Eric Bossi, "He's not afraid to go against older players, plays in attack mode and has already built up a pretty strong set of credentials. I'm not yet sure exactly where he lands in the class of 2015, but he's certainly in five-star discussion."
That evaluation of Newman from Bossi is very similar to what his father, Webster, thinks of his son's game.
"Malik can score the basketball, flat out. Right now we're working on his defense and his all-around game; but that boy has the God given ability to put the ball in the bucket," said Webster, "No one taught him how to do a lot of the things he does offensively, he was born with great talent."
With that talent comes great responsibility if those gifts are to be maximized; to reach the top Malik understands that he will have to outwork his competition. That's something that he's more then prepared to do.
"All he does is work on his game," Webster told Cats Illustrated, "As we speak we're in a tornado watch, and he's in the gym shooting jumpers."
With all the hype that comes from averaging double-figures with the Jackson Tigers in the Nike EYBL, averaging over 21 points per game at the high school level as a freshman and earning a reputation for dominating his age group, the spotlight has begun to follow Newman around.
"It's a blessing and he deserves all the attention because of his hard work," said Webster, "Fortunately, right now I think he's too young to have to deal with all the crazy hype. Right now he's able to just go out and work and play the game that he loves.
"He still has three more years left, and I pray for his continued success every single night. There's a lot of room for error and a lot of room for growth still. Hopefully, he'll keep getting better and better."
While schools aren't able to initiate phone conversations with 2015 prospects yet, the Newman's have reached out and talked to several top schools they have received letters from. Also dealing with his AAU coach, Larry Stamps, the Newman family has seen the recruitment of Malik skyrocket since the April evaluation period ended.
According to Webster, some of the schools that have been the most thorough with their interest have been Kentucky, North Carolina, Arizona, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and the two in-state schools (Ole Miss and Mississippi State).
Even this early in the process, Webster is talking with Malik to try and identify exactly what they're looking for in a college.
"Education is the number one thing we're looking for right now," Webster said, "It's too early to talk about majors and all that, and of course he wants to be an NBA player, but we need to make sure he's getting a great education."
While Malik has not yet had a chance to visit campus at Kentucky, and has decided to not take many (if any) unofficial visits this fall, there is a strong interest in the Big Blue between him and his father.
"Kentucky is a great program, it's for top level kids who want to make their dreams come true," Webster said, "There would be no argument from me, that would be a great choice for Malik."
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