How Far Does History Say Malik Newman Can Carry Mississippi State?

It didn’t take long for Ben Howland to make a splash in Starkville. Friday afternoon, Mississippi State’s new men’s basketball coach received scholarship papers from Malik Newman, a five-star combo guard from Jackson, Mississippi. MSU beat out Kentucky, Kansas and LSU to land Newman, and the guard’s commitment is widely considered the biggest in program history.

In the hours that have followed Newman’s pledge to State, hundreds of local and national journalists and fans have taken to Twitter and message boards to predict how Newman’s presence may impact the Bulldogs during the 2015-2016 college basketball season. A Twitter search of “Malik Newman” will unearth ambitious Bulldog fans who think Mississippi State is undoubtedly bound for the Final Four next season. The search will also disinter fans of rival schools who claim Newman made a terrible decision and that the five-star didn’t have the grades to attend their favorite school anyways.

So what does history tell us about Newman’s potential impact on Mississippi State’s basketball team?

First, let’s assume that Newman, the 8th ranked player in the 2015 recruiting class, plays well enough during his freshman season at Mississippi State to forgo his remaining eligibility and declare for the NBA draft.

From 2006-2014, 68 college basketball players fit the label of “one and done” and entered the NBA after only one season of college experience.

Now, let’s assume that hypothetically, with Ben Howland as head coach instead of Rick Ray, MSU would have finished the 2014-2015 regular season with a 14-16 record instead of its actual 12-18 record.

Of the 68 aforementioned “one and done” players, 11 played for teams that, a season before the “one-and-done” player arrived, finished with a similar record as MSU’s 2014-2015 team (projected as 14-16 under Ben Howland). Let’s take a chronological look at how those 11 players impacted their teams during their one college season (Note: Player ratings are according to Rivals):

Shawne Williams: 5-star, ranked 16th overall in 2004 recruiting class.
Williams was part of John Calipari’s first great season at Memphis. Along with Rodney Carney, Chris Douglas Roberts, Joey Dorsey, Robert Dozier and Darius Washington Jr., Williams helped the Tigers improve from their 16-14 record in the 2004-2005 regular season to a 27-3 record during the 2005-2006 regular season. Memphis advanced to the Elite 8 during the NCAA tournament before losing to UCLA. Williams finished his only season at Memphis averaging 13.2 points per game and 6.2 rebounds per game.
Impact on record: Plus 11 wins

Thaddeus Young: 5-star, ranked 5th overall in 2006 recruiting class.
Along with Anthony Morrow and fellow freshman Javaris Crittenton, Young helped Georgia Tech improve from 11-17 in the 2005-2006 regular season to 20-10 during the 2006-2007 regular season. The Yellow Jackets made the NCAA Tournament during Young’s only season, but lost in the Round of 64. Young averaged 14.4 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per game during his one college season.
Impact on record: Plus 9 wins

Javaris Crittenton: 5-star, ranked 7th overall in 2006 recruiting class.
Along with Anthony Morrow and the aforementioned Thaddeus Young, Crittenton helped Georgia Tech improve from an 11-17 record in the 2005-2006 regular season to a 20-10 record during the 2006-2007 regular season. Crittenton averaged 14.4 points per game and 3.7 rebounds per game during his one year at Georgia Tech.
Impact on record: Plus 9 wins

J.J. Hickson: 5-star, ranked 10th overall in 2007 recruiting class.
North Carolina State finished with a record of 15-14 one year prior to Hickson’s arrival. With Hickson, the Wolf Pack’s record actually declined slightly to 15-15. The Wolf Pack also lost in the first round of the 2008 ACC tournament. Hickson finished his only college season averaging 14.8 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per game.
Impact on record: No change

Anthony Randolph: 5-star, ranked 12th overall in 2007 recruiting class.
LSU finished with a 16-14 record in the 2006-2007 regular season. With the addition of Randolph to add to the presence of Marcus Thornton, the Tigers actually declined, finishing the regular season with 13-17 record. The Tigers also lost in the first round of the SEC tournament. Randolph finished his freshmen season averaging 15.6 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per game.
Impact on record: Minus 3 wins

Lance Stephenson: 5-star, ranked 11th overall in 2009 recruiting class.
Stephenson signed with Cincinnati, a team that finished with an 18-13 2008-2009 regular season record. With Stephenson, the Bearcats declined and finished with a 16-14 regular season record. Stephenson posted an average of 12.3 points per game and 5.4 rebounds per game during his only college season.
Impact on record: Minus 2 wins

Derrick Favors: 5-star, ranked 3rd overall in 2009 recruiting class.
Favors paired with sophomore Iman Shumpert to help improve Georgia Tech from a 12-18 finish during the 2008-2009 regular season to a 19-11 finish during the 2009-2010 regular season. The Yellow Jackets made the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Round of 32 before losing to Ohio State. Favors averaged 12.4 points per game and 8.4 rebounds per game in his only college season.
Impact on record: Plus 7 wins

Hassan Whiteside: 4-star, ranked 87th overall in 2009 recruiting class.
Whiteside helped Marshall improve from a 15-16 mark in the 2008-2009 regular season to a 23-8 record in the 2009-2010 regular season. Whiteside averaged 13.1 points per game and 8.9 rebounds per game in his one season at Marshall.
Impact on record: Plus 8 wins

Quincy Miller: 5-star, ranked 7th overall in 2011 recruiting class.
Baylor went 18-12 in the regular season a year before Miller’s arrival. With Perry Jones III, Quincy Acy, and Pierre Jackson, Miller helped the Bears improve to 25-6 in 2011-2012 regular season. Baylor also advanced to the Elite 8 before losing to Kentucky. Miller averaged 10.6 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per game in his lone college season.
Impact on record: Plus 7 wins

Shabazz Muhammed: 5-star, ranked 1st overall in 2012 recruiting class.
Coached by current MSU head coach Ben Howland, Muhammed team with Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams to help UCLA improve from an 18-13 mark in the 2011-2012 regular season to 23-8 record in the 2012-2013 regular season. The Bruins made the NCAA Tournament but lost in the Round of 64. Muhammed averaged 17.9 points per game and 5.2 rebounds per game while at UCLA.
Impact on record: Plus 5 wins

Steven Adams: 5-star, ranked 5th overall in 2012 recruiting class.
After finishing 16-15 in the 2011-2012 regular season, Pittsburgh improved to 24-7 in the 2012-2013 regular season with the help of Adams. The Panthers made the NCAA Tournament but were eliminated in the Round of 64. Adams averaged 7.2 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per game before declaring for the NBA Draft.
Impact on record: Plus 8 wins

What it means: On average, the 11 players mentioned improved their team’s record by 5.36 wins. It’s important to note that other inestimable factors (such as teammate skill, conference strength, injuries, and coaching prowess) affected the record of each of the 11 players just as it will affect Newman’s impact during his time at Mississippi State. If we hypothetically assume that MSU would have been better last season under Ben Howland and adjust its regular season record from 12-18 to 14-16, history tells us that, with the addition of Malik Newman and deviation accounted for, the Bulldogs will finish anywhere from 14-16 to 24-6. The broad range of outcomes can likely be narrowed, though, when you consider MSU’s returning talent, the incoming talent alongside Newman, and the upgrade at head coach with Howland replacing Rick Ray. With history and other favorable factors on their side, I expect Newman and MSU to finish the 2015-2016 regular season near the 20-10 mark, win multiple SEC tournament games, and be named to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009.

For the first time in years, basketball season can’t get here soon enough.

malik newman 2
Malik Newman will be one the most popular student-athletes in Mississippi State history (H/T maroonandwhitenation)

Follow Sidelines and Headlines creator Ray Butler on Twitter: @RayButlerII

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