PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — Derick Newton
had a splendid sophomore season.
The 6-foot-5 forward showed a tremendous mid-range game and scorer's mentality while leading Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, Calif.)
in scoring at 17.2 points per game. The Wolverines finished with a 20-10 record.
But Newton, with a chiseled frame and hearty work ethic, could see the writing on the recruiting wall.
He's a 'tweener, a middle man, a prospect without a true position.
Elgin Bayor was an NBA superstar at 6-5, but that was in the 1960s.
Charles Barkley made the NBA Hall of Fame as a 6-4 front-liner, but he was stronger and wider than a country mule.
So Newton, with a single focus, went guarding.
The result is a strong, determined, slashing big guard.
Proof in the pudding was a 31-point outburst in a 75-70 MaxPreps Holiday Classic quarterfinal win over an extremely long and talented Rainier Beach (Seattle)
He's not a finished product by any means, though he's getting plenty of interest from USC, UCLA and San Diego State for sure. He looks to improve his stock 5:30 today in a semifinal game against Westchester (Los Angeles)
at Palm Desert High School.
"I knew I had to change my game," Newton said. "I just worked constantly on my ball skills. I had the ball in my hand all summer."
Harvard-Westlake coach Greg Hilliard said Newton wasn't exaggerating.
"He's a hard worker anyway," Hilliard said. "With a particular focus he's even a harder worker. His moved his perimeter game out a little farther as well, so he's even harder to stop than before."
Just ask Washington's defending 3A state champion.
Newton scored a season high just a week after He scored 30 in an 80-77 win over Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach)
. He's averaging 21 points per game while shooting 50 percent from the field and 72 percent from the line.
He also leads the Wolverines at 8.1 rebounds per game to go along with 3.3 assists and 1.7 steals per outing.
Though Hilliard said Newton is a complete team player, the personable junior makes no bones about his strength.
"That's my game — I like to go one-on-one," Newton told MaxPreps basketball editor Jason Hickman. "If you don't pinch in on me I kick to the shooters. If you don't help, I'm taking it all the way to rim or pulling up."