Special to ZAGSBLOG
LAS VEGAS – Even at an event as loaded with talent as the LeBron James Skills Academy, Malik Newman still manages to stand out.
The 6-foot-4 guard is a consensus top-three player in the Class of 2015, and he showed off his innate scoring ability on Wednesday during the first day of workouts at the LeBron camp in Las Vegas.
Newman didn’t step on the gas pedal too frequently or try too hard to take over the action. Instead, the Jackson, Miss. native let the game come to him and flashed the inside-out scoring ability that has made him one of the most coveted recruits in the nation.
After Day 1, Newman said he wasn’t swayed by the talent level at the event, even when LeBron James himself jumped onto the court to scrimmage for a few minutes.
“Here, everyone can play,” Newman said. “It really doesn’t change my mentality. I go into every game saying I have to get better and I have to compete, so it doesn’t change my intensity.”
Even with dozens of college coaches ringing the courts in Vegas, Newman wasn’t fazed, saying that he hasn’t really started the clock on the recruiting process yet. With his commitment to the USA Basketball U17 team running through the FIBA World Championships in mid-August, Newman said he’s trying to focus on basketball until things slow down later in the summer.
“Right now I’m still at ground zero,” he said. “I think by the end of USA I’ll have my list up.”
Newman said he plans to have no more than six teams on his list, and likely only four or five.
And there’s a good chance fellow 2015 blue-chipper Diamond Stone will have the same list.
Newman and Stone, a 6-foot-10 power forward from Milwaukee, Wis. who is in Philadelphia this week at the Reebok Classic Breakout, have talked openly about potentially packaging themselves and committing to the same school.
Newman reiterated that possibility on Wednesday.
“[Stone]’s a great player, he’s a great person,” Newman said. “I’d love to play with him in college because he’s a dominant post player. That’s something I’ve always wanted to play with because I figure that if he can get the post going, that can help me out because that can really spread the floor.”
Newman said he and Stone talk almost every day and keep each other informed of developments on the recruiting trail. He listed UConn, Kansas, Kentucky, N.C. State and Miami as schools that have been recruiting them as a package deal.
When it comes time to make a decision, Newman said he and Stone want the best opportunity to contribute right away.
“Somewhere that we can go in and make a big impact right off the bat,” he said.