(Scott Phillips/NBC Sports)

Malik Newman sets the bar for guards in 2015 class

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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

BUBBLE BANTER: Key Atlantic 10, Big East bubble games

Kelan Martin, Kyle Alexander
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This post will be updated throughout the night.

Butler (KenPom: 41, RPI; 67) at Seton Hall (KenPom: 31, RPI: 37), 6:30 p.m.
LSU (KenPom: 53, RPI: 76) at South Carolina (KenPom: 45, RPI: 28), 7:00 p.m.
Nebraska at Wisconsin (KenPom: 51, RPI: 62), 7:00 p.m.
Saint Joseph’s (KenPom: 48, RPI: 30) at George Washington (KenPom: 71, RPI: 34), 7:00 p.m.
Missouri at Vanderbilt (KenPom: 35, RPI: 58), 9:00 p.m.
No. 14 Iowa State at Texas Tech (KenPom: 59, RPI: 51), 9:00 p.m.
Michigan (KenPom: 46, RPI: 56) at Minnesota, 9:00 p.m.
Washington (KenPom: 80, RPI: 57) at Utah (KenPom: 44, RPI: 16), 9:00 p.m.
San Diego State (KenPom: 65, RPI: 47) at Fresno State, 11:00 p.m.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Ben Simmons, LSU get tested at South Carolina; more important bubble matchups

FILE - In this Nov. 24, 2015, file photo, LSU forward Ben Simmons (25) drives downcourt as teammate Antonio Blakeney (2) follows in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina State in New York. For all of his gaudy numbers, Simmons is still trying to figure out the best way to put the Tigers in position to win. And now the schedule gets harder, starting with Tuesday night's, Dec. 29, 2015, tilt against Wake Forest, followed by the opening of Southeastern Conference play against Vanderbilt and No. 10 Kentucky. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: LSU at South Carolina, 7:00 p.m.

LSU attempts to stay atop the SEC standings when they travel on the road to face South Carolina. The Gamecocks have been very tough at home this season and they’re trying to form a potential four-way tie in the conference standings if they’re able to win this one (and Texas A&M wins tonight). It will be intriguing to see how Ben Simmons fares against South Carolina’s stingy defense.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: Saint Joseph’s at George Washington, 7:00 p.m.

An important game in the Atlantic 10 as Saint Joseph’s heads to the Smith Center to play surging George Washington. The Colonels have won three straight games as they try to stay with VCU and Dayton and make a move to tie the Hawks in the league standings. CBT’s Rob Dauster will be in the building for this one, so make sure to follow him on Twitter for updates.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

  1. No. 21 Baylor will have a tough one in the Big 12 when they go on the road at Kansas State. The Wildcats just knocked off Oklahoma and the Octagon of Doom is a very tough place to play, even if Kansas State is struggling in the standings.
  2. No. 16 SMU will try to stay in the lead in the American as they host Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane could really use a road win like this for its postseason chances.
  3. An intriguing Pac-12 contest tips as Washington heads to Utah. The Pac-12 standings are a mess right now, but these two teams still have a chance to make one final move for the regular season title if they start building momentum now.
  4. In the SEC, Alabama hosts No. 15 Texas A&M, a team that has lost three of its last four games. The Aggies will be favored in this road contest, but this one could be interesting because of Avery Johnson’s unique connection to Texas A&M. Avery Johnson Jr., a transfer guard sitting out this season at Alabama, played for the Aggies last season, so he could have some useful tips for his dad on slowing down Texas A&M’s potent offense.
  5. No. 20 Providence will be looking for revenge when they head to Milwaukee to face Marquette. The Golden Eagles currently sit eighth in the Big East standings, but they did win on the road by a point over the Friars earlier this season.