Malik Newman's dad says NBA decision not based on March performance

By Gary Bedore gbedore@kcstar.com

A group of NBA “personnel types” contacted by NBA.com’s David Aldridge recently listed Kansas redshirt sophomore guard Malik Newman as a player who improved his NBA Draft stock by averaging 23.8 points in five NCAA Tournament games.

Yet the eye-opening production down the stretch is not the reason the 21-year-old Newman has decided to turn pro with two years of college eligibility remaining, Newman's dad, Horatio Webster, said Wednesday.

“It wasn’t about the month of March. The month helped him,” Webster said in a phone conversation with The Star after his son announced plans to enter the 2018 NBA Draft.

Newman will begin interviewing agents back home in Jackson, Miss., this weekend with his decision to turn pro final.

“Malik was projected as a top-10 pick coming out of high school. It’s not like he played well in March and it was a fluke. He has a great resumé to go along with what he did in March,” Webster added of the 6-foot-3, 190-pound, four-time state champion at Callaway High.

“I don’t want people to get up in arms that he had one good month. His body of work … you could put Malik’s resumé against anybody. He’d probably get the job.”

Newman, who practiced at KU one season following his transfer from Mississippi State, averaged 14.2 points (on 46.3 percent shooting) and 5.0 rebounds per contest with 82 assists against 57 turnovers in 2017-18.

“I’m more than a proud man,” Webster said. “The thing I’m most proud of is coach (Bill) Self not giving up on him. Coach stayed on his neck until he performed the way he thought he was capable of performing.

“I have nothing but praise for Coach and the staff and praise for coach Hudy (Andrea, strength coach) for turning a scrawny body into a grown-man body. Kansas has been a blessing to me and my family,” Webster added.

Webster said the decision to turn pro was finalized in San Antonio, site of the Final Four.

“He came to the room (at the hotel) after the beatdown he took,” Webster said of KU’s 95-79 semifinal loss to Villanova. “He was down about that, but in a good way. They overachieved. Nobody expected them to go to the Final Four. We ran into a buzz saw, couldn’t get past that. He was, ‘I think I’m ready. My body’s ready. I’m feeling good. I’m healthy. It’s time.‘ ”

His announcement Wednesday fulfilled a master plan for Malik.

“When he decided to sign there, coach (Self) said, ‘If you could give me a year after you sit out, give me a year, let’s see what happens,’ ’’ Webster said. “That was the plan all along. Sometimes it was looking like it was not crystal clear (after a slow start to the season) but that was the plan.”

ESPN.com recently listed Newman as the 46th best prospect for the NBA Draft.

“He reminds me of Ray Allen in size, personality and shooting ability,” a Western Conference executive told Aldridge of TNT and NBA.com. “He’s on the come so to speak. Value pick.”

One NBA scout told The Star that Newman was a likely second-round pick who could move up not only because of his play in the 2017-18 postseason, but based on performance in workouts with individual teams and at the NBA Combine.

“Right now he’s like an unknown,” said Webster, who played pro ball overseas. “The big question mark — is he this kid everybody projected as a top 10 coming out of high school? Is he the kid he was the first couple of months at Kansas or the kid in March?

“His workouts are going to be important: (He’ll say), ’I am that kid you all had in the top 10. I am the kid who took over all the games in March and led us to the Final Four. I didn’t just hit a hot streak. That’s me. I can do this.’ That’s what he’s been doing all his life. I think that’s the biggest part. Once he freed his mind (in college), everything followed.

“You can see the ‘free-mind Malik’ is good,” Webster added laughing.

Webster said his son would remain in good academic standing while spending time both in Lawrence and at workouts the rest of the semester. Generally, KU’s early-entrants finish their coursework online.

On a lighter note. Newman told The Star earlier Wednesday he didn’t have a favorite NBA team. Asked his son’s favorite team, Webster said: “That’s a good question. I think his favorite team is whoever will bless him calling his name that night (of the draft). That’s his favorite.”

ECU hires Joe Dooley

Former KU assistant coach Joe Dooley on Wednesday was named head coach at East Carolina, where he compiled a 57-52 record in four seasons from 1995 to 1999. He went 114-58 the last five years at Florida Gulf Coast.

Dooley, 52, will be paid a base salary of $400,000 a year through May 31, 2023, according to WITN.com. The TV station said East Carolina will also pay him $275,000 a year to help promote season ticket sales and fund-raising efforts. He will net an additional $225,000 for his first year for his weekly broadcast program, the TV station indicated. He received $350,000 this past year at Florida Gulf Coast, according to the Naples Daily News.

“I certainly look right now and say I'm (darn) glad that we hired Joe back in 2013, and five years later he's left us better than he found it and certainly he's built upon the Dunk City mystic and all the good things (former Florida Gulf Coast coach) Andy (Enfield) left,“ Florida Gulf Coast athletic director Ken Kavanagh told the Naples Daily News. “Now the next responsibility is to get the next hire to do that. The search starts right now.“

Dooley said in a statement printed in the Naples News: “The personal and professional decision I made was not an easy one. We have accomplished something very few teams in the country have over the past five years here in Dunk City and I have no doubt the successes you have witnessed this decade will continue for many more to come. However, this opportunity is in the best interest of my family.

“I want to thank you all for the opportunity to be your head coach and represent this terrific university. Thank you for filling Alico Arena each game night and making The Nest one of the best home-court atmospheres. FGCU will always hold a special place in our hearts. We'll be rooting for the Eagles every chance we can and wish them all the best. Thank you for a great five years.”


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