Thursday, May 8, 2008

Wayne Newsom- Call Him a Leader

Wayne Newsom, a 6'7 sophomore forward for the Piscataway (NJ) Chiefs, is a player who loves to win. The big man plays for Team New Jersey ABC on the AAU circuit, and has had a stellar season thus far. Newsom's U-16 NJABC squad made it to the quarterfinals of the gold bracket at the Pitt Jam Fest. Early on in the event, I had the chance to chat with Wayne about his future, his love for the game, and more.

NB: So, [with] your season at Piscataway this year, what did you think you . . . accomplished as a team?
WN: As a team about two years back, we were 4-20, so we accomplished a lot, we went . . . 25-3, I mean that’s a big accomplishment, from going from 4-20, a lot of work from Coach [Guy] Genson, our head coach, he put in a lot of hard work for us, and just made us remember [to] stay humble [and] focused.

NB: What did it mean to you, . . . as a team to be able to play at the Prime Time Shootout, and to be playing against an opponent like Oak Hill [Academy in Virginia]?
WN: Well , we played against Oak Hill [and] it was pretty interesting. Everybody [else] was going into the game [saying] ‘you guys . . . are crazy, why are you playing Oak Hill? They’re going to beat you.’ We lost . . . by like 40. We lost by like 40, but it was a good experience because . . . we don’t have any DI players going out this year, [and] we were on the court with about seven or eight Division I players, so it felt good playing against DI players, and just having that experience [was great]. [We played against] a future NBA player [in] Brandon Jennings, [and] just going up against him, . . . playing physical, and just seeing what it takes to be the elite player [and] an elite team [was great].

NB: Was there any sort of awe-factor when [the team] stepped on the court of ‘wow, we’re on the same court as Oak Hill,’ or was it something that you guys didn’t think about?
WN: No, we just really . . . looked at them like ‘it’s a team, we play against teams everyday, . . . they got five players, we got five players. They got five brothers, we got five brothers.’ That was the [mindset that] we wanted to go into that game with. . . . We knew it was going to be a tough game, but we were also going to have fun, as young men, and just take it to another level, but it felt good playing against them.

NB: How does playing against this AAU competition . . . with Team New Jersey [ABC] help you to play against some of the higher-quality [high school] opponents both in New Jersey and out-of-state?
WN: Playing against AAU players, it’s a good experience, it’s a lot of talent out here, a lot of top prospects coming out of the class of 2010. . . . it’s a good . . . situation to see . . . what you [are] going to face [at] the college level, the elite players. [At] Team New Jersey [ABC], we have a lot of elite players coming up this year, we just got to keep working hard, . . . listen to [U-16 Head] Coach Matt [Pauls] and stay focused.

NB: You mentioned college, what are some of the schools that are currently showing interest in you?
WN: Rhode Island, I have a couple . . . of DII schools, . . . Felician, [and] a couple other schools.

NB: What school would you say right now is at the top of your list.
WN: I can’t even tell you, . . . I’m really going to focus on . . . playing basketball [and] just having fun right now. When the time comes, I’ll sit down with my family and Coach Matt and discuss what’s going to be my best decision for college.

NB: Do you have a goal to play high DI [basketball], or do you just want to find the right fit, whether it’s DIII, whether it’s a mid-major, or whether it is a high-major?
WN: I want to play college ball [at a school that is] . . . going to pay for my education, and [where I will be able to study] . . . what I want to study. . . . I would like to play high DI [basketball], high-major, low-major, I would like to do that, but it depends on me, it depends [on] if I keep working hard. . . . So, whatever Coach Matt . . . and my family feel is best for me, that’s what I’ll do.

NB: You mentioned . . . about your field of study, and [that] you want to go someplace that has that. Do you know what you’re interested in doing as of now, or is that something that you’re going to think about later?
WN: I want to be pediatrician, I want to help kids, I like helping kids. My mom always tell me ‘give back to your community . . . once you succeed in life,’ and . . . I think that . . . I’m going to succeed, I’m around positive people, positive people are around me, so I think I want to give back to my community by helping kids out.

NB: Being with Team New Jersey [ABC] and getting the workout that you guys do [get], all the practices. . . . What’s your opinion on all that? . . . A lot of AAU programs don’t do as much work as you do. What makes it appealing to you to play for the program that does do all that?
WN: Well, Coach Matt, he works hard on us. . . . Coach Matt is more than just a coach, he’s like a father figure to everybody. So, . . . when we have practice, that’s what we want to do, we want to get to practice, we want to work hard for not just us, but for Coach Matt too, and our families. Just . . . getting better, getting competitive, the practices that we have [are] competitive. You won’t find that in any other AAU program, [they are] real competitive.

NB: In practice [recently], you really were showing your mentality of wanting to win, and wanting to try hard, and wanting to be in the game, even in practice. . . . Where does that mindset come from, of always wanting to be a part of the action, be a part of that winning team?
WN: It’s just in any boy’s nature, any boy who loves playing basketball, that loves . . . doing anything with sports, football, basketball, soccer, baseball, name it, you just always want to win, no matter where you are, if you’re, [even] if you’re . . . on the bench, you always want to win, you just want to win. It’s just that mean streak about something, like ‘Oh, I got to win.’ . . . The word ‘lose,’ or ‘I lost,’ shouldn’t be in anybody’s vocabulary, it shouldn’t be, that’s just . . . a plain simple fact, it shouldn’t be in [anybody’s] vocabulary. [That’s] because if you don’t . . . want to win, if you don’t want to be the best at what you can be, then why try?

NB: What do you think that Piscataway is going to be able to accomplish over your final two seasons there?
WN: We brought a sectional championship home this year. Next year, it’s step-by-step, brick-by-brick. We . . . have a saying at our school . . . in our locker room, saying ‘brick-by-brick,’ and then when we say ‘brick-by-brick,’ it’s [supposed to mean] keep working. . . . Whatever comes, it goes by how hard we work, if we work hard, we succeed. If we don’t, then we won’t, so we have to keep working hard, and I think that we can be the best . . . in the state of New Jersey. That’s just up to us.

NB: What are some of your goals?
WN: Some of my goals as a teammate [are] to help my teammates get better, and another goal is to be a better leader, off the court and on the court. I would like for some of my teammates to come to me and talk to me. Some of them, they [already do] come to me and talk to me, . . . just about family. I would also . . . get an offer by the end of this season. If not an offer, an offer or two, . . . and I would just like to become a better man in general, and . . . become more focused [on] what I want to do and what my goals are.

NB: What do you consider to be the strongest point of your game?
WN: No doubt rebounding, rebounding and defense because . . . I like to play the bad guy because when you play the bad guy on defense, it’s just that you have a mean streak to you like, ‘yeah, he’s not doing this.’ . . . I also would like to be the vocal leader, I’m a vocal leader. . . . When I say something, the team usually reacts on it, so I . . . think one of the my strongest [aspects] is [that I am] a vocal leader.

NB: What do you think is your biggest weakness?
WN: I would have to say [Pause] consistency. I have more consistent. . . . I have to have at least good games back-to-back, if not doing something good like scoring, doing something good like rebounding. . . . . I have to be more consistent because if you’re not a consistent player, college coaches [will not like you as much, and] that . . . lowers your stock, and that’s one of things I would like to improve on.

NB: Give me one word to sum up basketball, . . . what the game of basketball means to you.
WN: Love, no doubt.

It is evident from this question and answer session that Wayne Newsom has what it takes to play ball at the college level, at least mentally. The forward loves basketball and he sure knows how to play it. Wayne is the type of "glue guy" that many teams need to succeed. Newsom will need to fine tune his game a bit, but he has two years to do so, and in that time he will wreak havoc at the high school and AAU levels. Wayne is a kid that low-major college teams may want to take a look at due to his mentality and solid game. If Newsom grows two or three more inches, high mid-major or even BCS conference ball may not be out of the picture. One thing is for sure, no matter where he ends up, Newsom will bring his leadership qualities, and people will be drawn to him right away.

Scouting Report on Newsom:

The 6'7 sophomore is a beast on the offense glass, and can do work on the defensive boards as well. Wayne routinely wows his teammates and crowds with highlight reel dunks, displaying his phenomenal ups and athleticism. He could certainly use some more range on his jumper, and that will hopefully come with time. As well, some more post moves would be a welcome addition for Newsom. The leadership abilities that Wayne possesses are evident. He takes charge of his NJABC team, whether he is on the court or on the sidelines. This may well be Wayne's best attribute. Every single team in every sport from pre-teen squads all the way up to the pro ranks need someone who has a presence, and that is something that Newsom certainly has.

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