Is there a more important player to Penn State basketball right now than DJ Newbill? As the school's first foundational piece to inner-city of Philadelphia, Pat Chambers' prized transfer has had big expectations since his arrival in the summer of 2011. His name recognition in the city from a decorated high school career has piqued the interest of the hoops community in the area. His individual success in State College could further promote Penn State basketball in the area that has seemingly forgotten about the program for so long.
In his first year in a Blue and White uniform, DJ made waves in the Big Ten by earning All-Big Ten Honorable Mention, even though his team finished at the bottom. He had plenty of great highlight moments, but ultimately was bogged down from his inherited point guard responsibilities.
DJ's numbers aren't particularly efficient but have a remarkable semblance to Tim Frazier's last year. He exhausted far too many possessions in too many minutes simply because Penn State needed him to. He was the most-used player in the Big Ten at 31.6% Poss%, and his offensive rating suffered because of it. His raw production was gaudy (4th leading scorer in Big Ten play), but his shooting percentages were subpar across the board, including just an average 68% FT%.
When DJ can move back to his old role off the ball next year, I think it's likely we see a dramatic increase in his efficiency and shooting % coupled with a substantial decrease in his possessions-used and raw statistics. DJ clearly can play in the Big Ten, but much of his success depends on how he meshes with the rest of a talented backcourt next season.
The glass-half-empty crowd will harp on DJ's lack of a left hand dribble, his 26.7% 3P%, or his turnovers. He's not a great jump-shooter, especially outside of 18-feet, nor does he have a great touch from the foul line as he missed numerous free throws at crucial times (which could also be a by-product of so many minutes). His handle, particularly driving with his left hand, could stand to see some improvement as well.
However, in a better system with more weapons around him, the warts in DJ's game won't stick out as much. With more energy and less drawn attention, Newbill's game could become more explosive next season.
vs Iowa - 26 points (11-20 FG), 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 1 block, 2 steals
DJ started the game off with a ferocious one-handed alley-oop and maintained #BeastMode the rest of the game. Penn State lost a tough one down the stretch, 74-72, but Newbill's performance was nearly flawless. Iowa struggled to guard him all night as DJ made shots from all over the court, including 3 three-pointers.
It'll be hard for DJ to replicate 16.3 PPG next season with Tim Frazier returning, John Johnson joining the backcourt, and the hopeful improvement of other returners on the team. But with the chance to slide back to his natural 2-guard position, it's expected Newbill will have a better chance to showcase his greatest strength - attacking the rim both on the glass and off the bounce.
Final Grade: A-
Tough season to objectively grade for a player who was forced to play out of position at point guard by default. He had his shortcomings, but it's impossible to not be pleased with the focused effort and determination Newbill showed in such a frustrating position .
Follow @BSDtweet on Twitter and join us on Facebook
All BSD community members should review our current Posting & Commenting Policies before creating any posts or commenting.