Neumann-Goretti's Newton becoming a hot basketball recruit

June 13-15, 2013: Jaquan Newton during the NBA Players Association Top 100 camp at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA.
June 13-15, 2013: Jaquan Newton during the NBA Players Association Top 100 camp at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. (Kelly Kline/Under Armour)
Posted: July 03, 2013

Ja'Quan Newton's jumper swooshed through the net on Sunday afternoon, ending Team Final's nearly 21/2-hour afternoon practice in Neumann-Goretti's muggy gym.

The city's best high school basketball player wiggled his fingers and acted as if his hands were on fire.

"Can you cool them off for me?" Newton asked an assistant coach with a smile before the team huddled.

Brimming with confidence, the 6-foot-2 point guard is having a torrid summer. Newton, who stars for South Philadelphia's Neumann-Goretti High during the school year, has strung together stellar performances with Team Final in AAU play.

As a result, his college recruiting has reached another level.

"More schools coming on, bigger schools coming along, just more guys knowing me," said Newton, who will travel to Las Vegas on Friday for the LeBron James Skills Academy.

Villanova, one of Newton's longtime suitors, remains in the running along with Georgetown, Miami, Syracuse, Temple, and St. Joseph's, among others. Newton expects to get an offer from UCLA; he received a phone call last week from Bruins coach Steve Alford.

Newton's recruitment continues to heat up as he enters his senior year, but the Southwest Philadelphia native is leaving few hints. Unlike most of his peers, Newton rarely posts messages about his scholarship offers, college visits, or phone calls. He said he has a few offers that only he knows about.

"It's just being humble," he said. "The kids that want to be known, want to be cocky, they get an offer and tweet it out right away."

At the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 High School Camp at the University of Virginia in June, Newton scored a tournament-record 31 points in the camp's championship game. He gained former 76ers coach John Lucas as a Twitter follower and added the Oregon Ducks to his list of college options.

Newton said he always considered himself to be one of the country's elite players but thought that no one knew him before he went to the Top 100 camp.

"I have the confidence to do whatever and go up against anybody," Newton said. "No matter who you are, I'm never going to be scared. I have the confidence that I can score on anybody."

He starred a week later at the Nike Point Guard Skills Academy in Union City, N.J., and Team Final AAU coach Rob Brown said Newton seemed to ride a wave of confidence from his performance at the Top 100 camp. Newton played against NBA all-star Kyrie Irving ("He's hard to guard," Newton said.) and learned the nuances of the pick-and-roll offense.

After the LeBron James camp, which features the nation's top 80 high school players, Newton will guide Team Final through the rest of the of the AAU season. Then he will return to the small gym near 10th and Moore Streets as Neumann-Goretti aims to become the first team in 20 years to win six consecutive Catholic League titles.

"There's no games, no jokes," Newton said. "We're going to come in, play hard, get them out of the way, and just win."


Contact Matt Breen at mbreen@phillynews.com. Follow @matt_breen on Twitter.

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