Kansas sophomore combo guard Malik Newman stood a step past the three-point line and demonstrated his soft touch on a series of long-distance shots Tuesday at Washburn University’s Lee Arena.
“Silky,” first-year Washburn head coach and former KU guard Brett Ballard exclaimed into a hand-held microphone as he performed running commentary of a contest in which the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Newman outgunned a pair of enthusiastic, young Ichabod basketball campers for the victory.
Newman showed similar shooting form the last two Wednesdays at Bill Self’s basketball camp. Newman cashed in five three-pointers and scored 21 points in one Self campers game and four threes en route to 18 points in another at Horejsi Center.
“I think Malik will do really big things this year,” 2003 KU grad Ballard said of Newman, who practiced but did not play in games last season in accordance with NCAA rules after transferring from Mississippi State.
“I think he’s matured since he’s been at Kansas. I think he’s in for a really big year and they are going to have a really good team,” Ballard, who was an assistant coach on Danny Manning’s staff at Wake Forest the last three seasons, added of the Jayhawks.
Newman averaged 11.3 points a game on 39.1 percent shooting in 2015-16 — his freshman season at Mississippi State. The Jackson, Miss., native hit 61 of 161 threes for 37.9 percent.
“I think my shot has improved a whole lot,” Newman said Tuesday. “Coach K.T. (Kurtis Townsend) has me shooting 250 NBA threes a day outside of the team workout and my personal workout.”
Newman said he has been working on his “overall game, just being more of a leader, being more vocal, my defense. I think I’ve gotten better going against my teammates each and every day.”
Newman said the 2017-18 Jayhawks have started to develop good team chemistry during early-summer workouts.
“I feel the guys I have around me want me to succeed. I want them to succeed,” Newman said. I feel it’s clicking at the right time.”
At this time next June, McDonald’s All-American Newman, the No. 8-rated player in the recruiting class of 2015 according to Rivals.com, figures to be picking out a suit to wear to the 2018 NBA Draft.
There was a short-lived rumor in April that suggested Newman would declare for the 2017 Draft and not play a minute of college ball for the Jayhawks.
“I wasn’t mad (at that report) because it didn’t come from a person inside my circle. So I wasn’t really upset about it,” said Newman, whose dad immediately squashed that particular rumor.
The closest Newman will get to the 2017 NBA Draft is watching it on TV on Thursday night.
“After Josh’s name gets called I probably won’t watch it any more,” Newman said. Former KU guard Josh Jackson is expected to be taken in the top five.
“I won’t watch again until I talk to Frank (Mason) and see what’s going on with him and ‘Lando’ (Landen Lucas). I won’t watch it until they tell me what number they are around,” Newman added of Mason, a likely second-round pick, and Lucas, who likely will go undrafted and become a free agent.
“I think Frank is a sleeper in the draft. I think he’s going to go higher than people think he’ll go. I’m excited to see Josh’s name get called. I’m excited for ‘Lando’ to see his name get called.”
Ichabod coach Ballard, who worked seven seasons on Bill Self’s staff at KU and was head coach at Baker for two years, said he’ll definitely find time to view Thursday’s draft proceedings.
“I will (watch) for the Jayhawks,” said Ballard, who takes over for former Washburn coach Bob Chipman, who retired after last season. “I also have vested interest in John Collins (6-10 Wake Forest forward who turned pro after his sophomore season) who was with us at Wake Forest.
“John has a chance to go for sure in the first round. He may have a chance to sneak down into the lottery. I talked to John the other day. I’m excited for him. He’s a great kid.”
Of Jackson and Mason, Ballard said: “I loved watching Josh and Frank play this year. I think Josh has a chance to go in the top three picks. Wherever he goes he’s going to be successful. Frank was just unbelievable this year. I think somebody is going to give him a chance. I’m excited to see where those guys all go.”
Newman loves working Bods’ camp
KU’s Newman was happy to make the short drive to Topeka to work with about 200 youths at Ballard’s first Washburn camp.
“I loved it,” Newman said while wearing a Washburn camp T-shirt. “For me to be able to come out here and interact with the kids, see the kids happy, working hard … I loved it to be out here with the Washburn guys (Ichabod players). It was awesome.”
Jones, Evan Manning join Wake staff
Former Kansas All-American Danny Manning has replaced Ballard on his Wake Forest staff with former Central Florida assistant Jamill Jones.
Manning also has brought aboard former KU guard Evan Manning in the position of basketball program assistant/team manager. Evan Manning’s duties will include practice preparation, community service projects with players and coaches, scouting and directing summer camps and clinics.
Evan, who is Danny’s son, is a graduate of Lawrence’s Free State High. He is a 2016 KU grad with a degree in sports management and is currently working on his MBA.
Former KU guard Steve Woodberry is a fourth-year Wake Forest assistant, and former Jayhawks manager Justin Bauman is in his fourth year as Wake Forest’s director of basketball operations.
KU grad Molly Bachand is in her second year at Wake Forest in charge of equipment services for men’s and women’s basketball. She also coordinates the student manager program.
Moore cut at U19 trials
KU sophomore point guard Charlie Moore did not survive Tuesday’s first round of cuts at USA Basketball’s Under 19 World Cup training camp in Colorado Springs. In all, 18 (of the original 27) players will continue to practice with a 12-man roster to be finalized Thursday.
Six of the remaining hopefuls are high school seniors-to-be, including KU and Kentucky recruiting targets Bol Bol, Immanuel Quickley, Jordan Brown, Louis King and Romeo Langford. Prep standout Cameron Reddish has Kentucky, but not KU, on his list.
Kentucky’s John Calipari is head coach of the U19 team. He’s assisted by former KU players Manning and Tad Boyle (Colorado). Three Kentucky freshmen, Hamidou Diallo, Kevin Knox and PJ Washington, also made Tuesday’s cut.
“He went out there, had a great attitude,” Self said of Moore, a 5-11 transfer from Cal. “He played OK. He didn’t probably play his best. That needed to be a situation where he probably played his best in order to have a chance to make the team. It’s all right. It’s a good learning experience for him.”
The team is not chosen just by Calipari, but by the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team Committee. The Sporting News reports that the committee is chaired by Purdue coach Matt Painter and includes Arizona’s Sean Miller and Providence’s Ed Cooley.
“This committee went through every name, talked about every kid, and came up with a list,” Calipari said. “I told these kids (who were cut), ‘We may be wrong, please prove us wrong, use this as fuel if you don’t make the team, and I’ll be watching everybody. But, I hope you prove us wrong.’ And for the guys that make it, ‘Now it’s on. Now the real stuff begins. I haven’t really coached yet, I’ve just kind of watched you.’ ”
Jackson, Boston at odds?
ESPN’s Chad Ford reported Tuesday on Twitter that former KU guard Jackson “won’t work out in Boston before Thursday’s draft unless the Celtics commit that 1. They’re keeping the pick 2. He’s their guy at No. 3.”
Ford added in another Tweet: “This is a disagreement between his agent and Celtics. Don’t pin it on Jackson. He’s the most competitive/fearless player in the draft.”
Philadelphia is expected to choose Markelle Fultz at No. 1. The Los Angles Lakers are expected to take Lonzo Ball at No. 2. Boston is expected to take either Jackson or Jayson Tatum at No. 3. Tatum has worked out for Boston.
Phoenix picks fourth and Sacramento fifth.