The idea of playing for the same school always made a lot of sense for Malik Newman and Diamond Stone. As consensus top-five players in the class of 2015, Newman and Stone could turn any program with a solid talent foundation into an immediate contender.
Their skill sets would seem to be a perfect match. Newman is a score-first guard with tremendous range and a relentless ability to attack the rim. Stone is arguably the top center prospect in the class as a 6'10, 250-pound low post threat with a soft touch. Duke-bound freshmen Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones may have started a trend with packaged deals. Class of 2016 prospects Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum are rumored to be considering it, too.
In an interview with Scout.com on Tuesday, Newman revealed UConn, Kentucky, Kansas, N.C. State and Miami are each pursuing both players. Newman said Mississippi State and Texas A&M are the only schools recruiting him separately, but reiterated his desire to play with Stone once again.
Each of the five schools on the list would be a nice fit for both players.
There might not be a school with a better history of developing guards than UConn . As a 6'3 gunner, Newman's game isn't all that dissimilar from Kemba Walker and Shabazz Napier -- two players UConn turned into national champions and first-round NBA draft picks.
Playing under Kevin Ollie has to be appealing, too. If Kevin Durant loves Ollie, why wouldn't teenage basketball prodigies like Stone and Newman? Ollie's NBA experience, immediate college coaching susccess and seemingly affable personality should resonate with recruits. The Huskies are a big-time threat to pull this off. UConn received a commitment on Monday from point guard Jalen Adams, a top 40 recruit in the class of 2015.
John Calipari is always going to be in the mix for talents like Stone and Newman. His history suggests he should never be counted out until both players are signed, sealed and delivered. Players love Cal because he keeps it real with them: Calipari has no illusions about players staying in school for four years like some other coaches, he simply wants his kids to win games in college and make the best decision for themselves and their families.
Kentucky is loaded for this upcoming season, but they could see multiple NBA departures to open up playing time for Newman and Stone. Newman would likely find burn regardless in Lexington. Stone's playing time might hinge on whether Karl Towns, Dakari Johnson and Willie Cauly-Stein decide to turn pro or return to Kentucky for the 2015-16 season.
It doesn't matter if you're a guard or a big man: Bill Self has a long history of turning every type of player on his roster into a first-round NBA draft pick. Kansas just made Andrew Wiggins the No. 1 pick and Joel Embiid the No. 3 pick. From Ben McLemore to Thomas Robinson, Self's recent history is filled with NBA talents. He could have two more on his hands this season with freshmen Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre.
Kansas apparently has told Newman he could start for them right now even if he's still preparing for his senior season in high school. The Jayhawks are always a threat to pull off a coup of this magnitude.
Mark Gottfried has built a solid program with the Wolfpack, reaching the NCAA Tournament in all three seasons he's been the coach. Turning T.J. Warren into a lottery pick can't hurt N.C. State's chances, either. This would seem to be a longshot given the presigue of the other programs in the mix, but Gottfried has proven himself to be a very good recruiter. Newman and Stone would certainly find immediate playing time and an ability to leave a lasting mark on a program like N.C. State.
The Hurricanes are coming off a 7-11 season in the ACC, and they're ready to move on from it. Miami has nine new players on the roster for this upcoming season, and would surely love to add talents the caliber of Newman and Stone.