Everything about Jakai Newton’s profile as a prospect jump off the page.
At 6-3, 190 he doesn’t have a lot of size, but makes up for it with his play. Newton is a force with the ball in his hands, driving past defenders for layups or thunderous dunks. Leave him open on the arc and he’ll burn you with a three. Try and close out, he’ll just drive past you.
He’s the type of player Mike Woodson covets and the kind fans love to watch. He committed to Indiana before Woodson’s first game as coach.
But fans will have to wait a bit longer to watch Newton highlights in the cream and crimson. A nagging knee injury and later a surgery in August has the freshman sitting out of practice with a brace and crutches.
That doesn’t mean he isn’t putting in the work though. Constant rehab sessions and workouts with trainers and film review are all a part of Newton’s routine as he looks to get back onto the court.
It may not happen this season, but when it does...
On the court
Only time will tell when Newton is able to return to basketball activities, and his presence will be missed.
He finished his high school career rated as a four-star, No. 127 overall recruit in the class of 2023. But a loss of his senior high school season likely impacted his true ranking among his peers.
Newton uses his athleticism in multiple ways. He as the handles to beat his man off the dribble and create space to drive or shoot. If he finds a lane and gets downhill, not many things are stopping him from getting to the rim.
His leap is impressive, able to get up for putbacks off missed shots from teammates, dunk or make plays on defense. Speaking of defense, he’s mindful in going for steals and opportunistic. Nobody’s catching him if he gets the ball in transition off a steal.
He’ll be a valuable piece for the future once he’s fully cleared and available to play, and I’d expect the staff to be as careful with him as they can be.