USA - Newman: "You just have to be yourself"

Malik Newman (USA). Greece v USA. 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship, Dubai (United Arab Emirates). Day 1, Group phase.

DUBAI (FIBA U17 World Championship) - Malik Newman is the captain of the United States national team at the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship.

The guard is also a media-savvy youngster looking to become the next big name from the self-proclaimed under-rated state of Mississippi.

FIBA.com caught up with Newman to ask him about following in the footsteps of many great USA players at the U17 Worlds, his own website, basketball in Mississippi and visiting the US Air Force and Army bases in Qatar.

FIBA: Malik, the United States played Greece in the first game of the FIBA U17 World Championship and had a tough encounter. Talk about playing against a strong European team.
Newman: Europeans are always aggressive, fundamental, great at finishing, tough. So we knew going into the game they would be just like other Europeans. They give us a little bit more than what we expected.

FIBA: What did the team take out of the game?
Newman: Never take anyone for granted, always hit the floor ready to play hard and play your A game.

FIBA: This tournament has seen a lot of great players in the first two editions go onto great heights. What does it mean to play in the same event as them?
Newman: It's great. To be able to wear USA across my chest is an honour and a blessing at the same time. And to be able to play against other guys from their countries and they're the best players in their country, that's always good. There are a lot of NBA players who have played in this, hopefully we are on the right track.

FIBA: How are you dealing with the heat and humidity here in Dubai?
Newman: It's not normal. It's crazy.

FIBA: You have your own website, iammaliknewman.com. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Newman: The website is a unique thing. My uncle made it. It just lets you know where I am at, my accolades, things I have accomplished and things like that. It was a unique thing for him to do for me.

FIBA: What did you think when he asked you about it?
Newman: He didn't ask me, he just did it and told me about it. I was pleased and excited about it at the same time.

FIBA: You have some pictures on there with you modelling clothing. Do you have a modelling career in the future?
Newman: My uncle also makes those clothes. He kind of juggled both of them. I'm just thankful to have someone like him.

FIBA: There is also a video on there called "Beyond the Game". What's that about?
Newman: That's something that Courtney Cronin did, one of my good friends. She just followed me around the rest of my high school season so guys know what I am doing on a day-by-day basis. I’m thankful and grateful for that.

FIBA: You also are blogging for the newspaper USA Today. That's a lot of media savvy.
Newman: You really just have to be yourself. You can never try to be someone else. Media can either ruin you or help you. You can't get into it that much.

FIBA: You are from Mississippi. Some other guys from there are Othella Harrington, Travis Outlaw, Erick Dampier, Al Jefferson and Monta Ellis. What if you were mentioned in the same breath as those guys one day?
Newman: It would be a good feeling if I made it. People don't really give Mississippi the respect that we deserve. It would be a blessing and let people know that Mississippi does have some talent and we do work hard.

FIBA: What's special about Mississippi basketball?
Newman: Guys tend to get overlooked in Mississippi.

FIBA: Why is that?
Newman: We're down south and people just don't respect Mississippi.

FIBA: During this trip, USA Basketball planned visits to the US Air Force and US Army bases. What was that experience like?
Newman: It was nice having the experience and seeing those guys who fight for our country and things like that. It was a blessing. For those guys to fight for our country and put their lives on the line, the only thing we can do is come out here and wear USA with pride and play hard and represent.

FIBA: Was it extra special since your aunt is also in the military?
Newman: In a way because with her going out and traveling to fight, I never know when she could lose her life. For her to fight and do that, I can only come out here and do that to represent USA to the best of my ability.

FIBA: Since you've arrived you are pretty much wearing that US Army hat non-stop. What do you think about it?
Newman: I like it. It's hot, so it's helping a little bit. That's one of the reasons I've been wearing it. But also, I like it.

FIBA: Alright, stay cool in this heat.
Newman: I'm trying.