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Newton Primed for Big Season

Neumann-Goretti guard Ja'Quan Newton (photo credit to Philly.com)

By Jeremy Treatman, Liberty City Press Sports Editor, 

Like all of his teammates, Neumann-Goretti's Ja'Quan Newton was jacked  to play Chester in a nationally-televised game on ESPN last February. The game didn't go the way it was supposed to for Newton or the Saints, however. Chester pummeled Neumann-Goretti 58-41 in a game that wasn't even that close. Newton managed 13 points in the box score but never had the impact on the game he or his fans thought he would.

"It wasn't our best game," he said. "We know we were better than that. I know I was a better player than I showed."

More disappointment came when Donegal shocked Neumann-Goretti out of the PIAA AAA state playoffs. Two teams Neumann-Goretti had already beaten, Archbishop Carroll and Imhotep Charter, instead played for the state title. Imhotep took it all. The hurt stung most of the winter and spring.

"It was a learning experience," said Newton. "But we won a lot of games, we were ranked during the year, we won our 5th straight Catholic League championship."

Since then, Newton's stock has risen dramatically. His play on the summer circuit playing for Team Final drove out college coaches in droves. Newton chose the University of Miami over dozens of suitors, including all the major players in the Philadelphia college game in the summer. He did it so soon, in part, to make his decision and move on with his senior year. "I really liked the coaches and the style of play down there," he said. "They play three or four guards together, up tempo, there's a lot of space for the guards to create offense which is what I'm good at. I saw how the style of play helped Shane Larkin make it [to the NBA]. I think I'm ready to follow in his footsteps."

Newton said he is spending this year improving his game. "I definitely need to get stronger, become a better shooter, rebounder, and defender," he said. "I am looking forward to getting the chance to win the Catholic League, city title and state title again. We have a very good team and our coach Carl [Arrigale] does a great job getting us ready."

Newton also said that he thinks his surroundings have made him a potential NBA player. "Being from Philadelphia, I really think that you just learn to play with heart, that's the main thing," he said. "The players here really have pride, play hard, and always try to represent the city. That's exactly what I am going to hope to do."

Netwon comes from a long line of stars at Neumann-Goretti. Scoop Jardine, who starred at Syracuse and is hoping to make a NBA team after being hurt overseas last year, ,always comes back to see him play. "It means a lot to see all the great players from Neumann come back and talk to us and help us out," Netwon said. "I hope I have the chance to do that." For now, he does that by his play on the court. His crafty drives, clutch shooting, and adept passing are main reasons why Neumann-Goretti is a pre-season number-one overall pick for the Philadelphia region.

"He's really getting better at being a leader," said Arrigale. "He's a spirited player but he has been quite when it comes to talking to the other players. I think he didn't want to tell the seniors what to do. But now, he's doing a much better job of it. He's making a conscious effort. He's really a talented player and great kid. I'm excited for his future."