Learning from the Best
By Austin Sapin
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The old adage goes, ‘If you want to be the best, you have to learn from the best.’ In his fourth and final offseason at The U, Ja’Quan Newton did just that.
Following a junior season in which he posted career highs in almost every major statistical category, the Philadelphia, Pa., native was made part of a select group – 1 of exactly 20 student-athletes, to be exact – invited to Chris Paul’s Elite Guard Camp.
When trying to learn and improve at the point guard position, there aren’t many better than ‘CP3.’
“I felt very blessed to attend the camp and learn from a guy like Chris Paul,” Newton said. “He taught me things, I got to play 1-on-1 against him, play in scrimmages with him and I just felt very privileged to be invited there.”
Photo credit: Jon Lopez
With an opportunity to pick the brain and even play alongside a future Hall of Famer with 8,251 career assists, Newton took his time in Winston-Salem, N.C., to work on the distribution side of his game rather than the scoring side. Under the tutelage of the NBA’s active career assist leader, Newton hopes he can take what he learned from CP3 into his final year at Miami.
Photo credit: Jon Lopez
“I just want to focus on making the right reads and making my teammates better,” the senior said. “I want to try and be more of a natural point guard, making the right pass, coming off pick and rolls or driving and just being able to always kick it to the open man.”
Following his week at the Elite Guard Camp, Newton returned to Coral Gables to even more superstar talent surrounding him, with the likes of John Wall and Kyrie Irving working out on campus. With an opportunity to soak up even more knowledge from the best in the game, Ja’Quan again jumped at the chance.
“I was in there with John Wall when he was working out. We talk and text here and there, and I am willing to learn everything I can, so I just try to ask as many questions as I can,” Newton said of his time with the Wizards superstar.
“He was in the weight room with us and doing an exercise with a medicine ball that I had never seen and I was able to ask, ‘What does that help you with?’ and he told me it was something he always does to build lower body strength, so that’s something I can learn and build from.”
With an improved Newton ready to run the show one last time for Coach L, things are looking bright for a Hurricanes squad loaded with talent. The senior point guard comes into his final season with 64 wins under his belt and an opportunity to be a part of a team capable of dancing a long ways into March.
“I think we are going to be a very talented team,” the Philly native said. “We have a lot of work to do before the season starts, but I think we are going to have a special year. It’s maybe the most talent that Coach L has ever had and I just want it to be the best season I’ve ever had here.”
For any senior, the final season, especially one seemingly full of promise, means more than the rest, but for Ja’Quan, his last chance to play for Jim Larrañaga makes it even more special.
“I came here for Coach L,” Newton said. “He’s the best coach I ever had and I love him like a father.”
With a top team, a top coach and the last chance to throw on ‘The U’, Ja’Quan Newton hopes learning from the best, makes him and this season, the best one yet.