Kansas redshirt sophomore guard Malik Newman and Fresno State associate head coach Jerry Wainwright applauded Saturday afternoon as eight men, ages 35 and over, ascended a ladder and clipped strands of the north-goal net in Allen Fieldhouse.
The Team Robinson coaches acknowledged the effort of their weary players, who outlasted ESPN announcer Dino Gaudio and Kansas sophomore guard Lagerald Vick’s Team Wiggins 44-33 in the championship game of the three-day Bill Self Fantasy Procamp.
“It was great,” said Newman. “The guys really bought into what me and the coach (Wainwright) had planned.” Newman is a 6-foot-3, 190-pound transfer from Mississippi State, who practiced with the Jayhawks last season but did not play in games, as per to NCAA transfer rules.
“The guys are tough,” Newman added. “For them to come out this weekend, bond that fast and play together and bring us home a championship, it means the world to me.”
Newman posed for pictures with players and fans, basking in Team Robinson’s perfect 5-0 record at the fantasy camp, which featured a bunch of men —several with gray hair — playing aggressive, hard-nosed basketball. Taking charges, getting hammered on drives to the goal and the setting of hard screens were common activities at this no-nonsense event.
“I’m a winner. That’s what we do,” Newman said, smiling. Newman led Callaway High in Jackson, Miss., to four straight state titles before heading to Mississippi State where the Bulldogs went 14-17 in 2015-16.
“The most fun was just being around the guys, interacting with them, seeing those guys happy and playing basketball,” Newman added of the Self Procamp experience.
Newman, a McDonald’s All-American ranked No. 8 in the recruiting Class of 2015 by Rivals.com, is expected to be an immediate starter for Kansas next season after averaging 11.3 points, 2.2 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game his freshman year at Mississippi State.
“I think it’s much harder to coach than play,” Newman said. “There are things you expect your players to know, certain things you tell them and they don’t go out with the assignment. It’s kind of frustrating. But it was fun. He (Wainwright) makes it fun for the guys.”
Wainwright — who coached Richmond to a 69-68 victory over Kansas on Jan. 22, 2004 in Allen Fieldhouse and also engineered a 64-57 DePaul victory over KU on Dec. 2, 2006 in Chicago — thanked Newman after the game for his assistance and told him he did a “really good job.”
Wainwright earlier had some advice for Newman as Newman becomes eligible to play in games in 2017-18 at tradition-rich KU.
“He told me, ‘Don’t rush it,’’’ Newman said. “I’m just coming back, take my time and get back in the groove, don’t put much pressure on myself, just play. All I can do right now is work hard this summer and do what Coach Self asks me to do. Everything else will fall into place. I’m dying to play. I’m excited.”
Newman in his one season at Mississippi State scored in double-figures 16 times. A 39.1 percent shooter overall (and 37.9 percent on three-pointers), Newman drained seven threes — one shy of the school record — versus Mississippi. He had a career-best 25 points in that contest and finished the season with 329 points, 10th most by a freshman in program history.
“I think Malik is terrific,” said Self. “I’ll be disappointed if he’s not an all-league player next year. I think he’s capable of doing that. Time will tell.
“Depending on how all the pieces fit, Malik is big enough to play any guard spot. So he could play the 2, could play the 3 and certainly could play some 1 if need be, although that’s not what he is. He’s a good enough ballhandler (63 assists, 54 turnovers at Mississippi State) where he could be kind of a backup or secondary ballhandler. I think he’s really good. He’s really talented. He’s one of the most talented guards we’ve had here.”
Robinson-Earl speaks in Indy
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, a 6-8, 220-pound sophomore forward from Bishop Miege (and KC Run GMC AAU) who is ranked No. 17 in the recruiting Class of 2019 by Rivals.com, spoke about suitors Kansas, Missouri and North Carolina with Rivals.com’s Dan McDonald on Friday at the Under Armour Association event in Indianapolis.
Robinson-Earl is also being recruited by Kansas State, Oklahoma, Iowa, Creighton, Wake Forest, Notre Dame and others.
Of KU, Robinson-Earl said: “It’s one of the top programs in the country. Everybody wants to play there. It’s a great school.”
Of Mizzou he said: “I’m good friends with Michael Porter and Jontay Porter. Jontay played on my middle school AAU team. I’m close with that family, so it’s good that they are there.”
And of North Carolina he said: “They are really interested. Roy Williams and C.B. McGrath (now head coach at UNC Wilmington) came to my high school games, and I took a visit down there. I liked it.”
Of the Robinson-Earl recruitment, McDonald wrote: “Proximity to Lawrence and familiarity with the Kansas program may scare off some, but he is taking legitimate looks. An offer from UNC could make things interesting, Wake Forest has pushed hard and previous relationships could help the new Missouri staff out.”
Self, by the way, reportedly watched a Run GMC game on Saturday at the Under Armour Association event in Indianapolis.
KU coaches watch prospects
Romeo Langford, a 6-4 junior from New Albany (Ind.) High, who is ranked No. 3 in the recruiting Class of 2018 by Rivals.com, scored 20 points on 7-of-17 shooting in an Adidas Uprising AAU game on Friday that was viewed by coaches from KU, Indiana, Louisville, Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina and others.
Rivals.com spotted KU coaches at games of Isaiah Todd, 6-9 freshman forward from John Marshall High in Richmond, Va., and David McCormack, a 6-10 junior from Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va. McCormack — who averaged 10.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game at Oak Hill this past season — is ranked No. 61 in the Class of 2018 by Rivals.com.
Self was in Indianapolis on Saturday to watch several prospects. According to Rivals.com he attended a game of Jahvon Quinerly, 6-foot junior from Hudson Catholic in Hackensack, N.J., who is ranked No. 26 in the Class of 2018 by Rivals.com; Naz Reid, 6-10 junior from Roselle Catholic in Asbury Park, N.J., ranked No. 14 in the Class of 2018 and Luther Muhammad, 6-3 shooting guard from Hudson Catholic in Irvington, N.J., ranked No. 56 in the Class of 2018. Self also was seen at a game of Moses Brown, a 7-foot junior from Archbishop Molloy in Queens, N.Y., ranked No. 6 in the Class of 2018 by Rivals.com.