Oh, so that's why Malik Newman is rated the nation's No. 1 overall junior by Rivals.com.
Time and again during Friday's 84-70 Mississippi Class 5A regional semifinal win over West Point (Miss.) High, the Jackson (Miss.) Callaway star unleashed transition dunks that left the crowd in awe. Unfortunately, West Point senior Juan Davis fell victim to the most ridiculous slam (h/t USA TODAY).
"That is really the first time this season somebody jumped with me," Newman told The Commercial Dispatch of the posterizing portion of a three-dunk series against West Point captured by the Clarion-Ledger. "Fast-break dunks are something I work on a lot." Apparently.
Newman's personal in-game dunk contest led to a game-high 33 points on 19 shots, raising his season scoring average to 29.4 points per game. Given his ability to seemingly dunk over anybody or anything, it's a wonder he's only shooting 59 percent from 2-point range this season.
"Malik is one of those rare kids who just loves the game-in and game-out competition," Callaway coach David Sanders told The Dispatch. "He doesn't get caught up in all of the hype. (Kentucky men's basketball coach John) Calipari has been to the gym four or five times. Malik talks to him every now and then, but for students of the school (Calipari coming to the campus) is a big deal. Malik has seen it all. He has been to Kevin Durant's camp. He has been to Kyrie Irving's camp and stuff like that."
Newman, who owns scholarship offers from the who's who of college basketball, has since led his team to next week's Class 5A state semifinals. We shall see if anyone challenges him in transition again.