I recently spoke with former Oklahoma State guard Jeff Newberry about his upcoming decision, his recent tour in China and his thoughts on Oklahoma State’s program moving forward.
Thanks again to Jeff for taking the time to speak with me. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @MoneyBagss22.
You said you were narrowing down your options between the Detroit Pistons organization (NBDL) and teams in Germany and Macedonia. How close are you to making that decision?
Jeff Newberry: Yeah I’m still thinking about it. I’m kinda leaning toward the D-League with the Pistons.
What have you heard from those teams about how they see you and your potential fit?
JN: Just talking to my agent, you know he handles all that stuff. And just telling him that they thought I needed to be on that level. You know it was just unfortunate that we had a bad senior season and you know I didn’t get as much publicity as I should have gotten. I guarded a lot of good guys and didn’t get a lot of praise for that. Those guys saw just me working out a couple times in the gym and stuff this summer and I guess wanted me to start out in the D-League. They think that I have a shot to move up.
Obviously, money is a determining factor for most but what are you looking at when weighing your decision?
JN: Well yeah, you know the money is always a big thing for a lot of guys. You know I’m not really worried about the money aspect of it this year you know. I’m not just hurting for money right now. So I’m just looking at it as in, if I get like close to a six-figure offer overseas than I might have to take that but you know with the D-League option puts me around the NBA organization and guys that come and scout those games and I’m looking at that also cause I can get in front of them and do what I need to do to have a chance, roll the dice and get called up.
How was your trip to China? Was there anything that surprised you about the basketball played over there?
JN: I just learned that you know any part of the world, there’s good basketball players that was first off. Secondly, I thought the Big 12 was the toughest conference in college so it was tough nights and stuff like that but just playing against those guys [in China] and some of them are around the age of 30, just the stuff that they know that we don’t know. Like certain stuff like you can’t go over screens over there because you can kind of move with the screens. That’s a tough transition and ball handling. We’re going for a loose ball and one of the guys would be grabbing your wrist of something small. It’s always something small with them. It’s a lot more physical and it’s a lot more one-on-one on that level which benefits me mostly. So I like that part of it.
How was the fan support over there (in China)?
JN: Yeah it was to me it reminded me of when we played Kansas at one point just the whole arena filled and people screaming and China is their country. So especially when we played the Chinese team, it was a very hostile environment, but it was a fun one. Kind of brought me back the college memories and stuff so. Yeah the fan support is crazy over there. If they see any Americans they already think that you play basketball. It was just a good experience you know just to see how much joy they get out of us just coming over there and playing basketball.
Your senior season at Oklahoma State included a lot of adversity for the team. With all the injuries, you were the only player to start every game. What was that experience like and what did you learn?
JN: Well you know I had been in college for four years at that point so you know there’s going to be a lot of little nagging injuries and stuff that some people can play through and some people can’t. So just going through that, you work out in the summer and envision your senior season to go differently and it just didn’t happen that way. We have Phil go down early and Jawun go down also but some guys got a chance to step up and they did. I was happy about a lot of guys. Tavarius Shine, I was happy with him the most just the way he fights with everything and steps up and I’m anxious to see what he is going to do his junior year. I see him making a big turnaround. But it just taught me to be a leader. A lot of those guys looked up to me and I know that no matter if we were winning or losing, I had to go out there and I had to put it on the line for those younger guys that looked up to me so it taught me to just fight through adversity or fight through anything cause I already took a route that was a rough one most people would say. So it just made me stronger for this journey I’m about to embark on right now.
You’ve played the point guard position in the past, is that where you expect to play on the next level?
JN: Yeah, that is where most of the scouts are wanting me to play and that’s what I’ve been working on all summer… two-a-days and three-a-days with my trainers who are great guys up here in Atlanta and I played a lot of point guard in China and you know I think I surprised a lot of the scouts. I don’t think a lot of guys knew I could be a true point guard. Just that transition and learning from pros every day and getting to play pick up with Lou Will (Lou Williams) who’s in my agency and Josh Smith and all those other guys they teach me a lot also with that position so. You know the transition has been a tough one but it’s not one that I haven’t played before you know. I just took a year off or so. So I’m trying to get back acclimated with how everything is going.
Tell us about the documentary you’re featured in and how that came about.
JN: Well we finished my senior season and I came home and I started working out really hard and my cousins and a couple of my close friends came over and was like ‘You doing three-a-days? You’re really hungry. You’re trying to get into the league.’ And I told them that was the main goal. As soon as I got done with school I was going to finish my online classes and go to work. So they were saying “with you going to four different schools and stuff in four or five years you should tell everybody your story since you have a lot of kids that look up to you on Instagram.” So you know I wasn’t too big on it. I didn’t want to be walking around or whatever with cameras following me or people filming me, but I know just where I grow up from a lot of kids grow up just think NBA, NBA, NBA and if you don’t make it to the NBA or NFL than you didn’t accomplish it or you look lower in other people’s eyes so the whole concept of doing it, I told them the only way I would do it is if we were relaying a message to people or kids letting them know that by me going to China, there are other ways to make money with this game and there’s other ways to be happy and there are a lot of great players overseas and that was just my biggest message with it ... I’m talking a little bit about my story and people that were close to me on my journey and just stuff of that nature and a lot of highlights from down there (in China) and stuff like that so you know we got pretty in depth with it. People will probably find out a lot of stuff about me that they didn’t know and it’s been great so far. We’re almost done with it. I think it will be done around September close to my birthday September 22nd so they’re just trying to go to work with now and make the documentary to showcase what I’ve been through and also let kids know coming up that look up to me that I can have a positive look and to let them know that they can do whatever they want to if they put their mind to it.
What is your biggest strength or attribute you can bring to your next team?
JN: Just a guy that’s ready to compete. You know when we went to China a lot of my teammates, we were doing like pick and roll situations and stuff and when we were over there and they were just doing three-quarter speed. But I was getting upset with the other guys because I was wanting to compete and they started calling me “Baby Westbrook” down there because I was athletic and coming off screens and dunking and stuff like that and because of my attitude. So I think that’s just what I can bring to any team. I want to go out there and compete on both ends of the ball. Whatever you need me to do. If you need me to go guard 6-9, 6-10 than I’ll go make it happen.
Do you have any comments on the coaching change at Oklahoma State?
JN: Coach Ford? A heck of a guy. Unbelievable coach and probably one of my favorite coaches that I’ve ever played for who I still keep in contact with to this day. The way I look at it, Coach Ford gave me the first opportunity when no one else would. Before the UConn offers would come in or the Kansas offers or all that, Coach Ford and Coach Ferguson realized my talent first. So I was just bought in to those guys and I came in trying to win games. In regards to the coaching change and stuff, you know, Brad Underwood is a heck of a coach, also. You saw what he did at Stephen F. Austin. You know I guess people just need a fresh start sometimes I guess that’s what the school needed, you know, whatever. Coach Ford bleeds orange and any past player that played for him knows how passionate he is about the game. I’m just glad that he got to St. Louis and I’m sure that he’ll turn that program around and I’m sure that Brad Underwood will come in and also do great things with the OSU basketball program and push those guys. There’s a lot of guys that will have to step up this year also so I’m just anxious to see how it goes and I’m anxious to see how they react to a new coach and Phil’s leadership. I know he’ll have great leadership, and he’ll come in and play his role and Shine and all those guys that have played those games in the Big 12, it will be on them to make it happen, [to] turn Cowboy basketball back around.
JN: I’ll try to make it back to Stillwater before I either leave the country or head to camp in Detroit. I’d just tell all the Cowboy fans I appreciate my two years there and all the support that they had for me and I just wish the basketball team the best in the future.