clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Jeff Newberry's winding road that led through Stillwater

New, 1 comment

Things don't always work out the way you planned.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

If you were to trace out the path Jeff Newberry has taken since his junior year of high school, you may have to go to get another sharpie.

Six stops in five states. The longest of which was his two-year campaign in Stillwater.

The former Oklahoma State guard and Atlanta, GA native was a two-sport star in high school and was projected to go in the top ten rounds of the MLB Draft. Instead, he made a decision to focus on the other sport.

So, Newberry left his home in Atlanta for Mack Prep School in North Carolina to hone his basketball skills. A year later he was off to Oxford to walk on at Ole Miss. After spending a redshirt year on the bench, he realized he had more to work on to get his game ready for the Division I level.

After one-year stints at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M and New Mexico Junior College, his game grew and his outside shot improved. Newberry found himself one of the top-ranked juco point guards in the nation with offers from several schools, including UConn, LSU and a handful of Big 12 schools.

In Stillwater, Newberry saw an opportunity. The accomplished backcourt of Marcus Smart and Markel Brown were off to the NBA. He knew he could come right in and contribute. He also had the confidence of the coaching staff.

Before the UConn offers would come in or the Kansas offers or all that, Coach Ford and Coach Ferguson realized my talent first.

Around here, we know how those two years in Stillwater played out. A redshirt junior season with meaningful playing time and a trip to the NCAA Tournament, although the post season run would be short-lived thanks to a first-round exit at the hands of the Oregon Ducks.

His senior season proved to have more downs than ups. The Cowboys’ squad lost it's other team captain, Phil Forte, just three games in.

Newberry, himself, suffered a facial injury necessitated a mask to help with his Russell Westbrook impersonation. More on that later.

When Big 12 Freshman of the Year, Jawun Evans, went out later in the season, Newberry was left to shoulder even more responsibility on and off the court.

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...

He was Oklahoma State’s third leading scorer (10.8 points per game) behind only Forte and Evans. But Newberry did it all for the Cowboys. A Swiss Army knife for a coaching staff just trying to keep the season afloat.

The point guard-turned-shooting guard became a whatever-you-need guard his senior year.

Third in average points per game, Newberry actually led all Cowboys with 347 points the 2015-16 season. He also led the team in minutes played (30.3 per game) and was the only Cowboy to start every game.

Though only 6 foot 2, Newberry was second in rebounds (4.7 per game) and fourth in blocks (behind only big men Mitchell Solomon, Anthony Allen and Chris Olivier).

He was seventh in the Big 12 in steals (1.53 per game), leading the team.

Newberry accomplished all these while regularly guarding the opposing team’s best perimeter threat, an ability he thinks can translate to the next level.

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.

Unfortunately, the national eyes on Oklahoma State were focused more on the emergence of a play-making freshman in Evans and the potential coaching change that would take place after the Cowboys' unceremonious early exit from the Big 12 Tournament.

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.

But Newberry isn’t feeling sorry for himself. He knows the only way to achieve his goal of playing in the NBA is hard work, and he’s already gaining a reputation for it.

During his recent trip to China, Newberry earned the nickname "Baby Westbrook" from other players due to his hustle and athleticism.

But a 6-foot-2 shooting guard would be a hard sell to most NBA scouts. So Newberry is working hard to make the transition back to point guard, which he played prior to his time wearing orange.

He’s even been working out with Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lou Williams who is represented by the same agency and fellow Georgian Josh Smith in his hometown of Atlanta.

Newberry has several options and will make his decision before the fall. He has an offer from the Detroit Pistons organization to play for their d-league affiliate, as well as offers to play overseas for teams in both Germany and Macedonia.

Regardless of whether his road heads north to Grand Rapids or to the other side of the world, Jeff Newberry will no doubt bring the same toughness and attitude that’s steered him this far.

...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.

Note: While looking through photos of Newberry for the cover of this article, I noticed that it was hard to find many where he wasn't either on the ground or on his way down, chasing a loose ball or making the hustle play.

That's what he will be remembered for by Oklahoma State fans. His tenure fell within a tough stretch for the program but he never let that affect his effort and attitude.

Stay tuned. A documentary about Newberry's path to the pros will be completed soon. We'll point you to it at that time.

Check out our complete interview with Jeff Newberry here.