(Kyle Telechan/Post-Tribune)

Why Indiana Should Offer In-State Class of 2019 Brandon Newman

-Update June 25:  Multiple reports have Brandon Newman visiting Indiana today-

Much has been made about some of the forwards that Indiana is targeting in the 2019 recruiting class.  And rightfully so.  Five stars like Keion Brooks, Jr., Trendon Watford and Trayce Jackson-Davis are game changers, and we know enough to say that IU is legitimately in the running for them.

Things aren’t as clear as it relates to the back court in the 2019 class.  While Indiana has offered some high profile guards, not as much optimism surrounds where the Hoosiers stand with them.

The Hoosiers made D.J. Carton’s final six, and many believe that IU is in the final two — but he has been receiving interest from the likes of Duke and other blue bloods lately.  Alabama guard Kira Lewis is one of the fastest rising stars in the country.  While he still appears to be planning a visit to Bloomington, IU wasn’t on his initial list of visits and he has interest from the likes of Kentucky and Kansas.  There are no secrets on the EYBL circuit.

Indiana has also offered guards Armaan Franklin, Anthony HarrisTyrell Terry, Jahmius Ramsey, Tre Mann and Jalen Lecque in the 2019 class.  Terry and Mann have already excluded IU, Ramsey, Franklin and Harris haven’t given any clues to suggest that IU is in a good place, and Lecque is a long shot at best.

Indiana is going to need a guard or two in the class, and it has an emerging star within its own borders.

MEET BRANDON NEWMAN

Valparaiso High School senior-to-be Brandon Newman’s basketball game has been on a meteoric rise.  From a freshman season where he saw limited action, to a sophomore year where he was the team’s 3rd leading scorer, to an eye-opening junior season in which he averaged 24.9 points and nine rebounds, Newman has made big strides each year.

The 6-foot-4 shooting guard didn’t wait until his senior year to take the next leap.  Playing for Chicago-based Meanstreets on the Nike EYBL circuit, Newman has been making a name for himself nationally.  Playing against the best talent in the class of 2019, he is averaging 18.3 points per game.  That’s good for top 20 on the circuit.

Newman is also a more than capable rebounder and defender.  He’s averaging 5.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals this spring.

But if there is one thing Newman is well known for, it is shooting the rock.  He’s shooting at a 40 percent clip on the EYBL, and he shot 43 percent from distance and 50 percent overall at Valparaiso this season.  Take a look at this video of Newman shooting the ball at the Nike EYBL session a few weeks ago at Westfield, Indiana:

Four things that stand out about his shot are (i) it seems effortless, (ii) there is no wasted motion, (iii) his release is very quick, and (iv) he has deep range.  These are things that will translate well to the higher levels of college basketball.

Beyond just basketball talent, Newman has the personal traits that you look for too.  Watch any video or read any interview with him, and it won’t be long until he is talking about the team, or defense, or improving.  This is a guy that isn’t satisfied with how far he has come, and appears ready to keep working to get better and help his team win.

There is already some evidence to support his impact on the team.  During his junior year he led Valparaiso to their first sectional title since 2011.

INDIANA NEEDS TO MAKE THE OFFER

The IU coaching staff has  been in contact with Newman for a long time.  They have watched him play and the visit has been in the works for months.  In a recent Rivals article, Newman said this about his interactions with IU:

“Coach (Bruiser) Flint and (Tom) Ostrom, I’ve been talking to them,” Newman said. “They say to keep staying in touch and that they want to have me for an unofficial sometime soon.”

Newman, who visited IU unofficially during the season and attended a game in Bloomington, has demonstrated an appreciation for Indiana basketball and what it means to the state.  He had this to say in a recent interview:

“Indiana has a great fan base, they really care about their guys.  Indiana basketball means a lot to the state.”

WHAT’S NEXT

Newman already has offers from Purdue, Xavier, Creighton, Loyola (Chicago), and Florida State.  With Indiana showing interest along with Ohio State and others, more Big Ten offers are sure to come.

Indiana has broken through with recruiting in parts of the state recently where it had struggled historically.  Getting commitments from Robert Phinisee from Lafayette and Damezi Anderson from South Bend were major coups.

The Hoosiers have similarly struggled to get commitments from players in the so-called “Region” area of northwest Indiana.  Countless top players have committed to Purdue, Michigan State and elsewhere.

Newman is already regarded as one of the best shooters in the class.  It is no secret anymore how critical the three-point shot has become in college basketball.  It is also no secret that IU badly needed someone like Newman last season.  You always need someone like Newman.  See Zeisloft, Nick — and Newman’s ceiling is much higher, and his game is much more diverse than that former Hoosier sharpshooter.

He says that he is going to focus on further improving his ball-handling and defense.  Watching him emerge from an unknown sophomore to a Top 150 player nationally in such a short period of time, we shouldn’t doubt that he will get that done.

Brandon Newman is what the “inside-out” strategy is all about.  Indiana needs to get aggressive here, gain some traction in northwest Indiana, and show everyone that the state’s borders are locked down.  Newman will likely be playing in the Big Ten one way or the other, and this isn’t going to be a guy that you will want to see wearing an opposing uniform.

The only thing that is likely holding IU back at this point is their scholarship numbers.  IU has at most 2 or 3 open scholarships in 2019, depending on what Romeo Langford does.  Perhaps if the Hoosiers offer Newman they will end up oversigned.  In the transfer era of college basketball, it is what it is.

Coach Miller can deal with those first world problems when we get there.  There is already chatter that Purdue is the clubhouse leader.  IU needs to be the next Big Ten school to get in line here.  Otherwise, we suspect the cries of “we should have offered Brandon Newman” will be loud and clear in a couple years.

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