D.J. Newbill Player Spotlight
“That tough Philly guard” is something that may not be familiar to the younger generation of Penn State basketball fans. Pat Chambers, a former Villanova assistant, describes the guard as physical, aggressive, not afraid of contact, and having the ball in his hands at the end of a game.
D.J. Newbill is the only Nittany Lion on the roster with Philadelphia, PA listed as his hometown. For Newbill, this may be just the beginning of a journey that was meant to be joining Coach Chambers in State College in the attempts to change a basketball culture and resurrect a program.
After switching high schools, Newbill eventually landed at Strawberry Mansion High, a member of the very prestigious Philadelphia public league. While playing a game at St. Joseph’s University against North Catholic, a certain fan in attendance that night was awed by Newbill’s abilities. That fan was newly appointed Boston University head coach Pat Chambers.
Not knowing whether or not Chambers should have spent time recruiting Newbill was a fact, but he was content with his college decision at the time to play at Marquette for Buzz Williams.
That plan however, took a turn for the worse.
Newbill received a call saying the Golden Eagles were going in another direction and the Marquette coaching staff still wanted to find a way for him to be on the squad. Oregon transfer Jamil Wilson announced his transfer to Marquette in April 2010 leaving Newbill on the outside looking in.
Newbill eventually took a scholarship offer at Southern Mississippi where he would be joined by former Strawberry Mansion teammate, Dwayne Davis. In 32 games played as a true freshman, Newbill averaged 9.2 ppg shooting over 53% and averaging a little over 6 rebounds per game.
Since deciding to transfer closer to home after the season, Newbill’s action on the court has been far different to the difficulties off the floor. An apparent shoulder injury in the first week of practice last season was a minor set back in his efforts to put on more weight and prepare his body for Big Ten play.
Newbill is now 100% for the upcoming season, which includes a tough test in Puerto Rico with #6 North Carolina State. Tragedy struck D.J. earlier this year, when his mother passed away after a short battle with cancer. He seems ready to take on many of the challenges handed out by Coach Chambers.
After watching two games with the backcourt of Newbill, Jermaine Marshall, and preseason Naismith Award watch list recipient Tim Frazier, it’s apparent something is brewing in Happy Valley. Everyone knows about Frazier’s 18.8 ppg last season and how the team goes as he goes.
However, the key to a successful season could ride heavily on the play of Newbill and Marshall. Both provide physical, grueling styles of guard play, which could pay dividends on a team where post play is a big question.
In a time when the mantra “Restore the Roar” is as popular as ever at Penn State, keep an eye out for “that tough Philly guard” capable of bearing the weight of bringing a program to national prominence.
Ryan Stevens is a freshman majoring in telecommunications. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.