After six months spent behind the scenes, Jakai Newton is eagerly looking forward to a bright future.
His road to making things official with Indiana concludes this week, and his road back to the basketball court will follow soon thereafter.
Newton tells The Daily Hoosier he is planning to sign his National Letter of Intent with Indiana on Thursday as part of a ceremony with his high school teammates. Several players on his Newton H.S. (Covington, Ga.) squad will play college basketball.
But Newton won’t join those high school teammates right away when they open their season this month.
He is in the late stages of rehabbing from a knee injury that required surgery. He hasn’t played since May 7, his birthday, and Newton is now anxiously awaiting his return to the floor. He’ll start easing way back in a few weeks.
“I should be back practicing with the team in early December, and then back in the games in January or February,” Newton told The Daily Hoosier.
A 6-foot-3 guard with a plus-eight wingspan, Newton visited IU last fall and committed just days later. He was back up in Bloomington last month for the program’s Hoosier Hysteria season kick-off event.
“I just can’t wait to be up there,” Newton said. “That (Hoosier Hysteria) just showed me a glimpse of the things when I’ll be up there. It was a cool experience.”
Although he didn’t get much exposure over the spring and summer due to the injury, Newton held strong in the national rankings. He’s still No. 71 in the 2023 class according to the 247Sports Composite, and the No. 15 combo guard.
Named second-team Class 7A all-state a year ago, Newton averaged 14.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game for a squad that has multiple Division One players and made it to the Final Four.
Newton was Indiana’s first commit in the class of 2023, and that was a decision he reached on faith to some extent. Head coach Mike Woodson had never coached a college game when he announced his verbal commitment to the Hoosiers last October.
Fast forward a year, and Woodson has Indiana ranked as high as the program has been in six years.
Newton isn’t surprised.
“I knew coach (Woodson) being from the NBA, I knew he was going to be able to get things back to where they used to be. I fully believe in Coach Woodson that he’s going to able to help me get to the next level.”
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