It wasn't that long ago that the Kentucky Wildcats were heavy favorites to land five-star point guard Malik Newman.
However, UK was beaten out by the home-state Mississippi State Bulldogs for the top-10 recruit in 2015, but that turned into a disaster for Newman. Not only was he taken off the ball a lot at MSU, but injuries and a losing season while never finding his groove led to Newman leaving after just one season.
Now, Newman will join the Kansas Jayhawks, according to ESPN's Jeff Goodman. Newman picked KU over Western Kentucky in addition to several other schools who were after him. He'll now have to sit out the 2016-17 college hoops season before being eligible in 2017-18.
That's big news for Kentucky, as the Wildcats and Jayhawks are battling for maybe the best point guard 2017 has to offer in Trae Young. The belief has been for awhile now that his recruitment would come down to UK and KU, but Newman being in the Jayhawks backcourt makes the Wildcats look like a far better option for Young, whether he's the full-time point guard or even just a second point that's more a scorer, a la Eric Bledsoe.
While Newman isn't forcing the Jayhawks to make him a point guard, he did admit the plan is for him to be the primary ball-handler a lot next year.
"They just said they want me to get back to the player I was," Newman said. "I told the staff that I don't need to play the point. They just want me to handle the ball, make plays and make the team better. That's what they sold me on."
Still, with UK likely losing De'Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Isaiah Briscoe to the draft while Dominique Hawkins and Mychal Mulder graduate, there may be no returning scholarship guards next year.
KU now has Newman, Lagerald Vick (remember him?) and possibly Devonte' Graham (junior in 2016-17) in the backcourt. While Young would still play a lot there, his role wouldn't be nearly as big as it would at Kentucky, where he could be the primary ball-handler and scorer.
In the end, Newman being at Kansas probably won't be the deciding factor in Young's recruitment, but it certainly keeps momentum in UK's favor as they remain the favorite for him going into the fall.
And how ironic would it be for UK to lose out on another highly-touted point guard that helps them land a ball-of-fire floor general?
That's what happened three years ago when UK missed out on Emmanuel Mudiay, which led to them getting Tyler Ulis instead. Now, missing out on Newman could help them land Young.