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Penn State Basketball Season Preview: Why is Everyone Sleeping on D.J. Newbill?

It's not just because Aaron Craft isn't part of the media yet.

Maddie Meyer

As unbelievable as it seems, D.J. Newbill is already in his final season as a Nittany Lion basketetballer. His career has been slightly shorter than most who come through the Bryce Jordan Center after spending his freshman year at Southern Miss, but from the minute he donned the Blue and White he has been nothing short of fantastic. The Strawberry Mansion product has already racked up over 1,100 points in two seasons at Penn State, and while he won't come close to Talor Battle's all-time scoring record, Newbill could easily top Battle's career scoring average (16.5 points per game) if he maintains his own 17.0 ppg pace, a figure which would put him behind only Jesse Arnelle (21.0 ppg) and Mark DuMars (17.8) among PSU's 1,000-point scorers.

Granted, Penn State doesn't get a lot of national press or have an illustrious history - I didn't have to dig through much of my 2011-12 media guide to get those statistics - but you'd be hard pressed to find any mention of Newbill in early preseason primers from the college basketball media. For instance, The Big Lead omitted Newbill from their list of the Top 50 Players in College Basketball for 2014-15, despite the fact that Sam Dekker, a fellow postseason all-B1G second-teamer, is ranked ninth. Dekker, whom everyone is exceptionally high on because he apparently grew two inches this summer, averaged five fewer points per contest in the same conference. Terran Petteway, the only player in the conference who outscored Newbill, sits at 31. This is the only such list out there, but you can bet that this isn't the only time Petteway will show up on a list and Newbill won't. Is there really that big of a gap between these two?

% Min Played % Shots eFG% Off. Rating 2pt% 3pt% FT Rate TO Rate PPG APG RPG FT%
Petteway 79.2 32 48.2 102.4 47.9 32.7 47.8 16.7 18.1 1.6 4.8 81.9
Newbill 85.2 28.3 50.2 108.3 50.8 32.6 40.3 13.8 17.8 1.7 4.9 75.3

Newbill's efficiency numbers were slightly better than Petteway's, so why is the Nebrasketball man getting all the recognition? Because his team made the NCAA tournament, and Newbill's did not. That's just how exposure works.

Meanwhile, Draft Express is going through their top NBA prospects in the B1G - they're through the top 15 at the time this article is being written - and Newbill is nowhere to be found. Now, there are perfectly acceptable reasons not to include a natural two guard that doesn't shoot it with particular acumen outside of 20 feet, but for DX to put Maryland's Dez Wells at least five spots ahead of Newbill seems a little ludicrous. No disrespect to Wells, who is a hell of a player, but read this scouting report and try to find something that doesn't describe Newbill. Por ejemplo:

Wells thrives as a scorer off the dribble, where is he is a threat to pull up from mid-range or to use his quick first step and strong frame to bully his way to the basket. Though he must continue to tighten up his ball-handling ability, Wells shows intriguing instincts inside the arc, where he can create space with spin moves, crossovers, and step backs or elevate for a runner in the lane. Likewise, he is not afraid to use his body to his advantage and he does a great job of backing his man down for an easy layup or turnaround jump shot.

The scouts at Draft Express know a lot. I know less than half of whatever that value is. That much I concede. But it's puzzling that one of the best players in the nation's top basketball conference isn't even among Draft Express's top 79 seniors. Maybe that's a clerical error, or maybe they just haven't seen Newbill enough to give him a proper look. It's certainly not some sort of vendetta. But if it is their observation that Newbill doesn't have a chance in hell of making the NBA, which is what that ranking indicates, perhaps a season of successfully running the point can help his draft stock.

Oh well. It's just preseason hype, after all. Magazines need to be sold, pageviews need to be racked up, and Penn State basketball doesn't move the needle like, uh, Nebrasketball. What a world. At least Rothstein knows what's up: