NCB On The Trail: Ja'Quan Newton

City of Palms Classic recap 

December, 26, 2013
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The City of Palms Classic is, in my opinion, the best high school basketball tournament in the country. The field is always strong, the games are generally highly competitive, and the crowd is involved and boisterous. The 41st edition of the tournament was extremely good and full of high-level talent.

Here were some of the best performances from this year's City of Palms.

Best Player
Isaiah Whitehead (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln)
2014, SG/PG, 6-foot-3, 200 pounds
Signed with Seton Hall
Whitehead is much improved and is one of the best guards in the country. He plays like a man among boys, and his ability to make plays for himself and others really sets him apart. He is more than capable of playing point guard at the next level and beyond. He averaged more than 25 points per game at the City of Palms and rarely forced anything while leading Lincoln to a fifth-place finish.

#AskCoachB: Canes hunt new guards

September, 19, 2013
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.


The Hurricanes have a pair of guards who will be big contributors and bring a different skill set to coach Jim Larranaga. Ja'Quan Newton is a tough, battle-tested point guard who can push a faster pace or execute in the half court. He will be handed the ball from day one to run the team and has a knack of scoring by the drive and with an improved jumper.

James Palmer owns a long, thin frame and a terrific skill set with a natural instinct to score and pass. His best basketball will be down the road. One ACC head coach told me he loved his skills and thought in time he would be a really good college player.

The focus now shifts to a need in the front court as the Canes have a few very good prospects on their radar.

Chinanu Onuaku (Upper Marlboro, Md./Riverdale Baptist) had a strong summer scoring inside, rebounding and playing defense in the paint with his big body. ESPN 100 PF Dante Buford (Jacksonville, Fla./ Arlington Country Day) would bring an explosive athlete who finishes inside and can hit a face-up jumpers. They are in strong with Ben Bentil (Middletown, Del./Saint Andrews), who is as strong and physical as they come and plays with a great motor. They are also pursuing Omar Sherman (Dallas/Prime Prep) and Makinde London (Thompson's Station, Tenn./Montverde Academy).

You always look at big men who have improved and continue to make progress this group falls into that category. The Miami staff will land one of the above to fill their needs in the frontcourt.

Notes: Cartwright could be double value 

September, 6, 2013
This time of the year, there's always something brewing. From campus visits to the value of Stanford's newest pledge, we've dumped out the notebook into a nice, tidy column to catch you up.

Cartwright's value could be two-fold

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Jahlil Okafor, Tyus JonesESPN, Icon SMIJahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones have discussed going to school together and the ESPN 100 prospects have scheduled several official visits as a tandem.
One of the lasting themes of the Class of 2014 has been the perpetual rumors of package deals, and yet as we get closer to and closer to November’s early signing period we’re still waiting for the first to come to fruition.

With that in mind, we examined the most rumored potential package deals in the country and set the odds in order to determine which have the best chance of actually happening.

First though, it’s necessary to define what a “package deal” is. In it’s purest form, it would be a situation where two or more prospects are recruited in unison and make one collaborative decision. But there really aren’t many situations currently like that in the 2014 class, with one notable exception.

Instead, most of the recent talk around “package deals” really reflects prospects that could potentially end up at the same school, even if they don’t go through the recruiting process together. As such, that is the definition which we’ll operate under for the purposes of this article and projecting the likelihood of such deals actually happening.

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Scout's take: Syracuse gets floor leader 

August, 17, 2013
Sometimes, these things just aren’t that complicated. Class of 2014 ESPN 100 point guard Kaleb Joseph (Nashua, N.H./Cushing Academy) is headed to Syracuse and the implication of his commitment is simple: Joseph is a good player and Syracuse coveted him.

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Analyzing recent ESPN 100 PG news 

August, 13, 2013

Reading through the typical recruiting jargon can be a difficult task, especially for the untrained eye, but suffice it to say that things aren’t always what they seem.

Some of the most misleading statements often include sayings like, "He has offers from," or "He chose school X over," or "He decommitted from," primarily because they consider only one side of the process.

The fact of the matter is that schools choose prospects as much as prospects choose schools, and the former is no less fluid than the latter.

What does that mean? It means that sometimes when a tweet or recruiting article says Player X committed to School Y over offers from Schools A, B, C and D, what it can really mean is that Schools A, B, C and D offered Player X at some point in the past, but are no longer recruiting him, so he decided to commit to School Y.

Now, why would a school suddenly stop recruiting a prospect? Because they suddenly realized he wasn't good enough? Possibly, but more likely it's because they have since received a commitment from, or feel like they are on the verge of a commitment from, someone else at the same position whom they hold in a little higher esteem.

So, with that in mind, we're going to rewind through a particularly busy few weeks in the national point guard market and make an attempt to translate the real story. Whether it was a prospect who made a commitment or cut his list, we'll tell you which schools are in, which are out, the real story behind whose decision it was, and the bottom line for each prospect. Then we'll circle back and tell you which two ESPN 100 point guards are still uncommitted and open to new suitors.

[+] EnlargeTyus Jones
AP Photo/Damen Jackson No. 1 PG Tyus Jones recently reaffirmed his desire to play college hoops with No. 1 overall recruit Jahlil Okafor.
News: Tyus Jones (Apple Valley, Minn./Apple Valley) reaffirms his intent to go to school with Jahlil Okafor (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young)
In: Baylor, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Ohio State
Out: Minnesota
Real story: Minnesota is still on Jones' list of seven, but the Gophers aren't on Okafor's list. That, in addition to the fact Richard Pitino and his staff could be seen prioritizing other targets this summer, is indication enough that Jones isn't likely to be staying home next season. The latest twist in the story is Okafor's AAU coach, Mike Irvin, going on record saying there is a great chance Duke lands Jones, while Okafor's camp has denied the Blue Devils are the leader for the package deal.
Bottom line: Jones and Okafor do want to go to school together, but they don't yet agree on where. Jones appears pretty set on Duke, but Okafor not quite as much at this point. ESPN 100 SF Justise Winslow (Houston/Saint John's) is also part of the conversation, making this potentially one of the biggest package deals in recent history.

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The Miami Hurricanes backcourt is now solidified for years to come.

Head coach Jim Larranaga landed a commitment from ESPN 100 point guard Ja'Quan Newton (Philadelphia/Neumann-Goretti) on Wednesday, just two days after shooting guard James Palmer (Washington, D.C./St. John’s) popped for the Hurricanes to start the week.

Newton and Palmer join ESPN 100 swingman Adonys Henriquez, who committed last December, in a recruiting class that is now ranked No. 6 in the nation for 2014.

And when you add the three 2014 commitments to the six recruits Miami signed in the Class of 2013, Larranaga and his staff have essentially rebuilt three-quarters of the roster in the last year.

The Canes aren’t done recruiting in the 2014 class, either. While the backcourt is set for the foreseeable future, they’d still like to add a boost to their frontcourt before all is said and done.

[+] EnlargeJa'Quan Newton
Geoff Burke/USA TODAY SportsESPN 100 PG Ja'Quan Newton is a key piece of Miami's backcourt rebuilding job.
But make no mistake about it, Miami has done a remarkable job rebuilding its backcourt and is now as well positioned as any school in the ACC for the next four years -- not just with a wealth of talent and versatility but also with a series of individual pieces that fit together in a potentially precise way.

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Miami stays hot, lands ESPN 100 PG 

August, 7, 2013
The reconstruction of the Miami Hurricanes’ backcourt is complete -- at least as far as the 2014 recruiting class is concerned. ESPN 100 point guard Ja'Quan Newton (Philadelphia/Neumann-Goretti) committed to the Hurricanes on Wednesday after considering Minnesota, Oregon, Texas A&M and UCLA.

Newton is the second Miami commitment in the last three days after shooting guard James Palmer (Washington, D.C./St. John’s) picked the Hurricanes on Monday. In addition, ESPN 100 combo guard Adonys Henriquez (Orlando, Fla./Orlando Christian Prep) pledged last December.

[+] EnlargeJaquan Newton
Kelly Kline/Under ArmourESPN 100 point guard Ja'Quan Newton committed to Miami over Minnesota, Oregon, Texas A&M and UCLA.
With three talented perimeter players, including a pair of ESPN 100 prospects, Miami moves into the 2014 class rankings at No. 6.

Newton, who is ranked No. 67 overall in the Class of 2014, will take his official visit to Miami on Sept. 14.

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Four days after the July evaluation period came to an end, we now have a lot more clarity when it comes to the top playmaking guards in the Northeast.

Point guard Kaleb Joseph (Nashua, N.H./Cushing Academy) cut his list to three over the weekend and shooting guard Isaiah Whitehead (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln) provided that his top three schools are Syracuse, UCLA and Arizona. Meanwhile, point guard Phil Booth (Baltimore, Md./Mount St. Joseph) pledged to Villanova on Tuesday and point guard Ja’Quan Newton (Philadelphia/Neumann-Goretti) announced his top six on Wednesday.

With Booth off the board, the common denominator in all three remaining ESPN 100 recruitments is Syracuse. And while the Orange have been rumored to be a favorite for both Joseph and Whitehead, they now find themselves as the only local option for Newton now that Villanova has found its point guard in the 2014 class.

So now the question is: How many of these guys could potentially play together at Syracuse?

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Top 10 lessons learned in July 

July, 31, 2013

To understand what just happened in college basketball recruiting, let me use a golf analogy. In golf majors, Saturdays set the players up for the final round and determine the pairings for the homestretch.

In college basketball, the month of July is like that Saturday of a golf major. Coaches fly coast to coast, some to evaluate and others simply to babysit prospects. It’s a grueling 15 days on the road -- separated into three different five-day open evaluation periods -- and even the seasoned veterans will tell you that. Technology has made it easier to keep track of the recruits, but travel is travel, and so much time in different cities is rough on the bodies of the players and coaches.

Still, July remains the single most important month on the recruiting calendar. It sets the tone for in-home and official visits. It helps set up the final round and determines the pairings for the homestretch.

For the better part of July 6-28, I was on the road. Every day was something new and an opportunity to gather intelligence on players and pay attention to the world of college basketball recruiting. If you didn’t learn something daily, you weren’t doing your job.

Here are 10 key things I learned this month on the recruiting trail, from package deals to the loaded 2016 class and everything in between.

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ESPN 100 PG Newton names finalists 

July, 31, 2013
On Tuesday, one of the schools that had been a legitimate landing spot for ESPN 100 point guard Ja'Quan Newton (Philadelphia/Neumann-Goretti) was eliminated -- and not by Newton’s doing, either.

When fellow ESPN 100 prospect Phil Booth (Baltimore, Md./Mount St. Joseph) committed to play for Villanova, Jay Wright’s point guard search was over.

[+] EnlargeJa'Quan Newton
Geoff Burke/USA TODAY SportsESPN 100 PG Ja'Quan Newton trimmed his list to UCLA, Oregon, Minnesota, Syracuse, Miami and Texas A&M.
A day later, Newton has narrowed his final list of colleges to six.

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Best of the Orlando AAU events 

July, 30, 2013

ORLANDO, Fla. -- College coaches swarmed the courts of ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex and surrounding areas last week for the AAU Nationals and Super Showcase. Over the course of five days, more than 1,000 coaches got to evaluate prospects of all levels as some of the nation’s best AAU teams descended on Central Florida after qualifying by winning their respective districts.

Here’s a look at a multitude of players who impressed in Orlando, including ESPN 100 difference-makers, prospects with the most untapped potential and recruits with the brightest futures.

ESPN 100 Program Difference-makers

Tyus Jones (Apple Valley, Minn./Apple Valley)
2014, PG, 6-1, 170
AAU: Howard Pulley
Baylor, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Minnesota and Ohio State
Jones' court vision, passing and decision-making are just a few reasons he’s special. The way he makes plays off the screen and roll is beyond his years. He also knocks down open shots and makes free throws when the game is on the line.

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Jones, Travis win gold at Super Showcase 

July, 29, 2013
ORLANDO, Fla. -- We witnessed an abundance of talent throughout this past week at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex between the AAU Nationals and Super Showcase.

The action culminated on Sunday as ESPN 100 recruits Tyus Jones and Reid Travis led Howard Pulley to a 79-72 win over a loaded Each 1 Teach 1 squad in the championship game of the Gold Super Showcase.

Here’s a closer look at some of the top performers from Sunday’s action at the Super Showcase and Nationals, including Jones, Travis, and ESPN 60 prospects Malachi Richardson and Terance Mann.

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Bluiett, Newton score big at Peach Jam 

July, 13, 2013
Editor's note: This is the latest entry in Dave Telep's July Road Trip blog. Throughout the month, Dave will check in each day he's on the road while covering some of the biggest basketball recruiting events in the country. He'll let you know where he is, offer some highlights of the day and give a quick look at what's next.

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- All of a sudden it was raining buckets in Gym 4 on Friday morning at the Nike Peach Jam. ESPN 100 small forward Trevon Bluiett caught fire and kept pulling. Ja'Quan Newton put his head down and made for the rim. Both guys hung big numbers in wins.

Here are some nuggets from Friday’s early action at the Peach Jam -- including where Butler stands with Bluiett after Brad Stevens’ departure -- before I had to hop a plane to Indianapolis for the adidas Invitational this weekend.

Trevon Bluiett
Dave Telep/ESPNESPN 100 SF Trevon Bluiett put on a show Friday morning at the Peach Jam with a 41-point explosion.
Bluiett pours in 41 points!

A few minutes into Friday morning’s game, Spiece Indy Heat star forward Trey Lyles pulled up injured; he didn’t return. ESPN 100 shooting guard James Blackmon Jr. didn’t even play due to injury.

Regardless, the boys from Indiana were all good. Bluiett put on a show, going for 41 points against Team Penny.

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Minnesota first-year head coach Richard Pitino has been working night and day trying to sell a new era in Golden Gophers basketball.

It’s a battle he is fighting on several fronts, simultaneously trying to connect with his new team, re-engage a jaded fan base and redefine his program on the recruiting front.

The last of those three endeavors might prove to be the most difficult.

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