SUWANEE, Ga. — Top UK basketball recruiting target Malik Newman spoke to reporters Wednesday night about his recruitment, the possible “package deal” with fellow five-star recruit Diamond Stone and much more.
Newman was supposed to play in the Nike Peach Jam this week in North Augusta, S.C., but will miss the event due to a hand injury. He was in the Atlanta area this week hanging out with Stone and some other top high school players.
Who has been coming after you the hardest?
“Really no one stands out. Everyone is really at the same level right now.”
In the last week, a number of people have changed their predictions for your recruitment (away from Kentucky). Have you seen that, and where do you think it comes from?
“That’s just people making their predictions. I can’t get mad about that or anything, because that’s their thoughts. I can’t change it.”
Is there anything to it?
“No. I don’t know where they’re getting it from, because I hardly talk about recruiting. So, I don’t know.”
How much do you talk about recruiting, among your coaches and between you and your dad?
“I don’t really talk about it that often. Me and my dad probably talk about it once a week. Other than that, I don’t really talk about it.”
What are the teams that have been contacting you and your dad the most?
“Kentucky, Kansas, UConn, N.C. State, Mississippi State, Florida, Texas A&M. That’s really about it.”
Do you think you’ll wait to see who goes to the draft before you make a decision?
“I don’t think I’ll be able to do that. But I’m going to wait it out, see how things end up turning out. Who I think will be staying and who I think will be leaving. Basically, I’ll just make my decision off of that.”
Will you definitely decide in the spring?
“That’s when I plan on doing it. So anything before that would be a surprise to me also.”
When will you take official visits?
“Throughout the basketball season. I’m going to take all five of them.”
Do you have any planned?
“No, sir, not yet.”
Do you know any schools that will definitely get one of those five?
It seems Kentucky and Kansas try to get guys to midnight madness. Have they tried to get you for that?
“A few of them have talked about the midnight madness, and I think me and Diamond are going to go to a few of them. We haven’t decided which ones yet.”
With Diamond – are the two of you definitely going to go to the same school?
“As of right now, we are.”
Is it a case that you think you like the same schools the most? Or will one of you have to compromise?
“At first it was like that. But as the recruitment went on, it was like, ‘Well these guys have my attention also.’ We kind of have the same mindset and the same goals for us, college wise.”
What about schools that are recruiting one of you and not the other?
“At the end of the day, once we get to that (decision), there might be a solid big (man) that stays and it may limit Diamond’s time or something. And the same thing with me. There may be a solid guard that stays there and limits my time. So, we still have to look out for ourselves, but playing together is something that we’d really like to do.”
When did you and Diamond start to be friends?
“At the USA camp (last summer), actually. Our first time playing together, it just clicked right off the bat.”
Why do you think people started thinking that Kentucky was the “it school” for you, and the team you were going to go to?
“I think just because it was Kentucky. A lot of guys say that’s my style of play, because I can score and I’m a big guard. And they always say that’s what Cal looks for. I think, right off the bat, once they noticed that I had an offer from Kentucky (they thought) that I was going there.”
What do you think of their backcourt situation – with Ulis and Booker – who most people think won’t be one-and-done guys?
“I think they have a solid backcourt with all of the guards that they have. If it turns out that some of them go to the league, and some of them stay, then I think they’ll still have a solid backcourt. Just because of the talent they have. And they compete with each other every day and have one of the toughest schedules in the NCAA.”
How does Calipari recruit you?
“We’ve built a relationship, so now it’s just like talking to a regular friend or something. It’s really nothing special when I see his name pop up on the phone. If me and him are talking, it’s never like, ‘Whoa, Cal’s calling me.’ At first it was like that. Now, it’s just like, ‘Cal, what’s up, how you been.’”
Does your dad (former Mississippi State player Horatio Webster) want you to go to Mississippi State?
“He kind of favors them a little bit. But he knows, at the end of the day, it’s still my decision.”
Do they have a good shot?
“Yeah, they do.”
If it does come to pass that you and Diamond Stone go to the same college, what’s that team going to be like?
“In my eyes, I think they’ll win the NCAA championship. So, hopefully it plays out.”
How long do you all stay in contact?
“Me and Diamond talk every day. Talk, text, face time, however we can communicate with each other.”
What is it about his game that you like? Why do you want to play with him?
“He’s a solid big man. He’s an old school big man. He has the left hook shot, the right hook shot, he’s a big body. And he can play. He’s not one of those arrogant guys. He’s fun to be around. Putting yourself around people like that and people that want to be great, it can only make you better.”
UConn seems to be a school that a lot of people are mentioning. What specifically do you like about them?
“I just like the way he lets his guards loose. I think that’s why a lot of people are starting to mention them a lot. Because the way they had with Shabazz (Napier) and Kemba (Walker). The way they let those guys loose and just play.”
When are you going to cut you list down?
“I’m going to try to cut it after Team USA (in a few weeks). To about five or six (schools). Hopefully five.”