Top recruit Malik Newman commits to Mississippi State

Malik Newman, the nation's top-ranked guard, has committed to Mississippi State.

Newman announced his intentions during a private ceremony that was live streamed on the Clarion-Ledger website.

Newman, a 6-foot-3 guard from Callaway (Miss.), is ranked No. 10 in the ESPN 100 for the 2015 class. He chose the Bulldogs over Kentucky, Kansas and Ole Miss. Newman didn't take a single official visit throughout the process, but previously had taken unofficial visits to three of the four, and also met with Kansas after the Jordan Brand Classic last week.

Because of the proximity factor, Mississippi State has long been considered an option for Newman, although the Bulldogs were rarely deemed the favorite -- until Ben Howland took over for Rick Ray last month. Howland made getting Newman a major priority, and Mississippi State finished strong over the past several weeks. It's an enormous splash for the former UCLA coach after just one month in Starkville.

"I weighed all my options and it's somewhere I can really have an impact," Newman said on the live stream. "With a new coach, he'll push me. He'll only expect great things out of me and the team."

Mississippi State had a few other factors in its favor. Newman's father, Horatio Webster, played for the Bulldogs in the late 1990s, while Newman also has the chance to have the ball in his hands and be the go-to guy from day one at Mississippi State.

"We have the pieces around us," Newman said. "I watched them closely last year and they were in a lot of games down the stretch. They didn't have a player they could get the ball to down the stretch, and I think I can be that player."

While Mississippi State's class took a hit when four-star guard Tookie Brown decommitted after Ray was fired, Newman's pledge makes up for it. He joins a class that includes four-star prospects Quinndary Weatherspoon, a talented wing, and Joseph Struggs, a post player.

The Bulldogs went just 13-19 last season, but they will return four starters to go with the incoming freshmen. Howland is also still pursuing other options on the recruiting trail.