Malik Newman Strives For Unprecedented Success
When Malik Newman (Callaway H.S./Jackson, Miss.) takes the floor for the USA in the 2015 Nike Hoop Summit on April 11 in Portland, Oregon, he not only will be surrounded by 10 USA Basketball gold medalists for teammates, he likely will be the most decorated player on the floor – for either the U.S. or the World Select Team.
In 2013, Newman traveled to Maldonada, Uruguay, with the USA U16 National Team, where he started in all five games and averaged 16.2 points and collected a team-high 14 steals to help the USA to a 5-0 record and gold medal at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship. His performance earned him MVP honors in the eight-team tournament.
The very next summer, he returned as a member of the USA U17 World Championship Team that traveled to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, for the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship and helped the USA to a 7-0 record and another gold medal – this time averaging a team-high 14.9 points per game to go with 4.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.
Among the prestigious company of USA U16 and U17 alumni such as Bradley Beal (Washington Wizard), Stanley Johnson (Univeristy of Arizona), Jahlil Okafor (Duke Univeristy) and Jabari Parker (Milwaukee Bucks), Newman accomplished something no other USA player yet had done and earned MVP honors at the FIBA U17 World Championship to sweep back-to-back MVP awards.
What stuck with him after the FIBA U17 World Championship, however, was not his personal accolade.
“It really showed me that I can be more of a point guard if I really wanted to be,” Newman said of his 2014 USA Basketball experience. “And it showed me that leadership can take you a long way.
“It was a great feeling to win the gold medal,” Newman added. “All the hard work that I put in, the coaches put in, the team put in, it was incredible to do that once again.”
Two of his 2014 USA assistant coaches – Eric Flannery (St. Edward H.S., Ohio) and L.J. Goolsby (KC Run GMC, Kan.), will be back on the USA sideline at the 2015 Nike Hoop Summit, as the head and assistant coach, respectively, as will six more of Newman’s teammates from the gold-medal winning U17 squad.
The five other USA gold medalists on the Nike Hoop Summit Team team earned their gold medals at the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship that was played in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“I was kind of speechless,” Newman admitted of his reaction to being asked to play for the USA in the Nike Hoop Summit. “It is just a great honor. I didn’t really know if I was going to get selected to play.
“I’m going to be with the coaching staff again and with my teammates again,” Newman continued. “I’m just happy to be able to represent my country again.
“I think that we can be one of the special groups that plays in the Nike Hoop Summit.”
Unlike FIBA and FIBA Americas tournaments, which are comprised of 12-member national teams, the Nike Hoop Summit pits the best U.S. high school seniors against a World Select Team that is comprised of 11 of the best international basketball players from around the world who are 19 years old or younger.
“I am looking forward to playing against the World Team, because we are great players, and they are great players, and I think it is going to be a really competitive game.”
Newman and his USA teammates will be looking for nothing less than the USA’s 13th win in the 18th edition of the event, but just the USA’s second win in the past four years.
Newman enters the game on the heels of a high school season in 2014-15 that saw him earn a second-straight Gatorade State Player of the Year honor after averaging 29.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.2 assist per game. Not only that, but he and Callaway won a fourth-straight Mississippi 5A state title.
“I think I am a very different player,” Newman said when asked to think back to himself as a freshman basketball player. “I think my game has changed all along. I think I have been building each year.”
Each success has brought more notoriety, which is something with which Newman has become accustomed to.
“Just use the pressure to motivate you to play hard,” Newman said. “That is what you can control. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to where you are overdoing things. Just try to go out and play your game.”
To “play your game,” a player must not only be able to recognize his or her strengths, they must also drill those strengths until the skills are second-nature. That hard work is something Newman has been willing to put in, and he credits his family for inspiring him to work as hard as he has.
“Seeing my family, my mom and my dad get up and work each and every day and seeing my little brother and my little sister,” Newman said when asked what motivates him.
He currently is looking for a “second family” as he mulls over where he would like to play college basketball next year. Newman is one of six USA players in the Nike Hoop Summit who currently still are undecided about their freshman NCAA seasons.
“Really just some place that is going to help me develop my game and become a better person on and off the court,” said Newman of what he is looking for in a university. “And a coach that pushes me each and every day.”
Don’t miss your chance to see Newman and his USA teammates in the 2015 Nike Hoop Summit and stay tuned to usab.com for broadcast information. If you are in the Portland area, get your tickets at usab.com/nikehoopsummit.