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Malik Newman solidifies top spot among the class of 2015

By Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer

Back in early July, Malik Newman scored 40 points at the Nike Peach Jam in front of a who's who of college basketball coaches. He then said the following:

“It makes me feel good, but I'm not sure if they're watching me or watching someone else. I just try to show them I can play and that I need a scholarship.”

Here's a hint, Malik: if it's a coach at a powerhouse school, they're definitely watching you.

Newman is the consensus No. 1 player in the class of 2015, and he constantly attracted a steady stream of big-time coaches to his games. Whether it was at the Peach Jam playing with the Jackson Tigers or in Dallas and Las Vegas playing with Mo Williams Elite, there was a crowd.

And Newman didn't disappoint throughout the month of July. He averaged 22.2 points at the Peach Jam, then followed that up with even more scoring the final two weeks. In arguably the game of the summer (video above), Newman dropped 32 points and hit eight 3-pointers against Belmont Shore.

Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Florida, Mississippi State, North Carolina State, Louisville, Florida State are among the schools pursuing Newman.

All nine predictions at the 247Sports Crystal Ball have Newman pegged for Kentucky, and while he has no favorites, the steady NBA pipeline John Calipari has built in Lexington is attractive.

“Every year, he has first-rounders, he has different NBA players going. Every so often, he may his whole starting five going,” Newman said last month. “Going there would give me a great chance to go to the league.”

Duke is another school that has tracked him throughout the AAU season.

“Me and Coach [Krzyzewski] are very cool. We've built a good relationship,” Newman said. “He tells me the truth. He just said that, If I come, I would be a great player, I fit great with their system, and I would be able to be a pro. They really let their players loose, and they're a balanced team. It's not always running, it's not always slowing it down. I think I would fit in good with that team.”

Newman isn't a pure point guard yet, and he's not simply a shooting guard. He excels with the ball in his hands, especially when he's getting his own shot. He can get to the rim and finish effectively, but is outstanding with pull-up jumpers and other mid-range shots. Moreover, as Newman showed in July, he can keep defenses honest from the perimeter.

To become a full-time point guard, he has to work on his decision-making and passing – but being an explosive combo guard suits him well.

And it will suit his future college well, too.

“[I'm looking for] good academics, great coach, great environment, great teammates, and someone who can help me get to the next level,” Newman said.

All the coaches that have followed him around for the past three weeks are hoping they can be the ones to propel him to the NBA.

And yes, they were all watching Newman.

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