(Scott Phillips/NBC Sports)

Malik Newman sets the bar for guards in 2015 class

1 Comment

FRISCO, Tx. — Malik Newman is the best guard in the 2015 class. Recruiting rankings are a debate, but this debate for the moment isn’t very close. To put this argument into perspective the 6-3, Jackson, Mississippi-native is the No. 3 overall prospect in Rivals’ 2015 national rankings and the only guard among the top seven prospects. For guards in his graduating class, Newman is in a class of his own at the moment and looks to be an elite scorer.

Newman was averaging 23.4 points per game in eight games with the Jackson Tigers on the EYBL before more big scoring outings this weekend in Dallas. Malik came into Dallas as the EYBL’s leading scorer by a full point over Tyus Jones (22.1 ppg) despite being a grade younger than most of the other players.

“The EYBL has been great because every time we come out there’s at least one or two top players on the other team that are at least top 50 in the country so it’s always a  good experience going against them,” Newman told NBC Sports.

Newman handles the ball much of the time for the Jackson Tigers, but is likely more suited to play two-guard because of the way he naturally scores and attacks the basket. Still, Newman is open to discussion regarding his future position.

“I’m not really sure which guard spot I’ll play, it depends on which system I’m in,” Newman said.

Malik also listed a few things he’s looking for in a future college program.

“Probably a team that’s balanced; that can get up-and-down or slow it down a little bit,” Newman said. “Also, a team that’s going to push me to be the best that I can, a team that is going to get me to the next level, and good academics.”

But Malik currently isn’t focused on recruiting and doesn’t even know the schools that are actively involved, instead choosing to focus on his game.

“My Dad knows and my coach (knows the schools recruiting me) and I don’t really keep up with it,” Newman admitted.

For now, Newman is focused on the ways he can improve during the spring.

“My defense, my leadership and the way that I communicate with my players because you have to talk to some people differently than the way that you talk to others.”

Scott also writes for NY2LA Sports and can be followed on Twitter @sphillipshoops

Stanford loses key veteran guard to stress fracture

Marcus Allen
AP Photo
Leave a comment

Stanford guard Marcus Allen will be out indefinitely after suffering a stress fracture in his right foot, the school announced on Monday evening.

“We want to make sure Marcus is fully healthy before returning to the court,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said in a statement. “Marcus played at a high level during our summer exhibition competition in Italy, where he was one of our leading scorers. We will certainly miss him as we continue to prepare for the season, but we are fortunate that this happened now and he will be back before he knows it.”

The loss of Allen is a potentially brutal blow in an already-thin back court. The 6-foot-3 Allen started 23 games as a sophomore last season, averaging 6.4 points and 3.5 boards. But he averaged 11.4 points and 5.4 boards as the Cardinal made a run to the NIT championship and looked poised to be able to replace the departed Chasson Randle’s production this year.

What’s worse is that without Allen, Stanford does not return a single player in their back court that averaged more than 11.5 minutes. Sophomore Robert Cartwright looks poised to step into the starting point guard role, but neither Dorian Pickens nor Christian Sanders looked like they were ready for that kind of role in the Pac-12 last season. Dawkins does return Malcolm Allen, Marcus’ twin brother, who sat out last season with a broken wrist.

The good news is that Stanford’s front court is strong enough to carry the Cardinal until Marcus is healthy. Rosco Allen, Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey will be able to hold their own against any front line in the Pac-12, while Grant Verhoeven and freshman Josh Sharma will provide adequate depth.

Utah lands top-75 center Jayce Johnson

Larry Krystkowiak
AP Photo
Leave a comment

Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.

Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.

Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.