Malik Newman has played his last game for the Kansas basketball team.
Newman, a 6-foot-3 redshirt sophomore guard from Jackson, Miss., who was KU's best player during the squad’s NCAA Tournament run to the Final Four in 2018, has declared for the NBA Draft and will leave the program, he announced Wednesday.
“We kind of figured I'd sit out a year (after transferring from Mississippi State after his freshman year), then if things go as planned the year I played, then yeah most definitely I'd try to pursue that dream of being in the NBA,” Newman said in a phone interview with The Star.
“I talked to coach Self and my family and this is the best time to do it,” Newman added.
Newman started 33 of 39 games, averaging 14.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. He was selected the 2018 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, and was an all-Big 12 honorable-mention selection and member of the conference’s All-Newcomer Team.
He was voted most outstanding player at the Big 12 tournament and the NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional.
“I’m not sure. I’m not sure,” Newman told The Star, asked if he’d have turned pro had he not had such a strong postseason. He averaged 21.6 points and 6.2 rebounds in KU’s five NCAA Tournament contests after averaging 24.0 points per game in the Big 12 tourney.
“A lot of hard work has been put in through the years. The platform Kansas gave me to showcase that hard work … I’m thankful,” he added.
Newman said: “This is most definitely a dream. It’s really what any kid dreams of that plays basketball. I’m glad Kansas gave me the opportunity to put myself in position to make that dream come true.
“I cannot thank the Kansas fans enough. They have been there since day one and have supported me throughout my two years at Kansas. I'll always be a Jayhawk and this will always be home for me.”
Newman will head home to Mississippi this weekend to begin interviewing agents, his father said. He will be back for Tuesday’s awards banquet and will be in Lawrence off and on through the end of the semester, his dad added.
KU coach Bill Self agreed with Newman’s decision.
“Malik has done everything that we had agreed to," Self said. “He came to Kansas and knew after a redshirt year he would hopefully put himself into a position to be a professional basketball player after one year competing. He had a terrific season this year and was one of the best players in the NCAA Tournament. I think this is good timing for Malik. We wish nothing but the best for him and appreciate all his efforts. We all know his best basketball is still ahead of him.“
Newman was a 2015 McDonald's All-American who averaged 11.3 points his freshman year at Mississippi State before coming to Kansas.
KU is at the limit of 13 scholarship players for next season. Guard Lagerald Vick and center Udoka Azubuike have not yet made announcements about potentially declaring for the NBA Draft. An announcement is expected soon regarding Vick’s future.
Vick’s leaving, if that occurs, would open a scholarship slot. KU is pursuing Romeo Langford, the top remaining unsigned senior in the 2018 class. He has narrowed his choices to KU, Vanderbilt and Indiana.