Malik Newman surprised the college basketball world when he announced he was transferring from Mississippi State after one year. Plenty of players transfer after a year - that's not uncommon. Players of Newman's caliber, however, do not.
Newman was a 5 star recruit, widely expected to be a one-and-done (and quite possibly a lottery pick). Newman was solid but not dominant for Mississippi State this year as a freshman, scoring 11.2 points per game amidst shooting struggles from inside the arc. He didn't show quite the skill set NBA teams look for in a 6'3 guard, and withdrew his name from the draft. Immediately afterward, it was announced that Newman would transfer from Ben Howland's program, sit out for a year, and play elsewhere.
Kansas seems to be mentioned in every high-profile transfer's search for a new school, and this situation was no different. KU was already actively pursuing former Duke point guard Derryck Thornton, looking to shore up the roster for 2017-18. Thornton ended up choosing USC over Kansas, which means that Newman, who visits Lawrence this week, could be huge target for Bill Self.
It's been a while since Self had to truly go through a rebuilding year, but '17-'18 could certainly become one. Landen Lucas and Frank Mason are seniors. Carlton Bragg and Svi Myhailiuk gave serious consideration to leaving last year, and may be unlikely to stay after this season. It would be a shock if Josh Jackson is around for more than a year. Self has even alluded to Devote Graham being a risk to leave early, saying it's possible the Jayhawks will lose their top six players after this year.
We don't know how next year's recruiting will turn out, but it certainly appears that the backcourt could be in some trouble. If Graham, Svi and Jackson all leave in addition to Mason graduating, it will be LaGerald Vick and... well, that's it. Vick with an all-freshman backcourt is a scary possibility, so transfers may become a necessity. Since Kansas missed on Thornton, Newman becomes their last chance at securing an experienced AND talented transfer who could easily start right away.
There's always next year, but why leave it to chance? Securing Newman would be huge for the future, even if he only spends a year on the court for Kansas. Otherwise, Self could end up scrambling to put together a backcourt. We all know that Self can pull off some great things in recruiting, and I don't doubt that he has a plan in place. Still, I'd feel a whole lot more confident if Newman signs on.