Valpo guard Brandon Newman is proving to be a rising (and shooting) star on the recruiting circuit
NEW ALBANY – Fifth-year Fort Wayne men’s basketball coach Jon Coffman is known for several things. He is a high-energy, always-be-positive coach whose teams emphasize offensive freedom and flow to a successful degree.
But when it comes to recruiting, Coffman is known amongst prospects as a guy that disperses scholarship offers as if they were gold. That is because to him, they are.
“I want an offer to really mean something to a player,” Coffman has told News-Sentinel.com in the past. “I want it to be special.”
The Mastodons will be listed on scouting services as having interest in a number of athletes but in terms of offers, very rarely will they be mentioned in abundance. However, when Coffman saw then-Valparaiso High School sophomore guard Brandon Newman play in the spring of 2017 he was all in on the athlete and offered Newman an opportunity to join his program early last summer.
Fort Wayne was the first Division I program to offer Newman but they weren’t the last.
“It’s just one of those things where he has been on people’s radar and they have just wanted to see him progress and see him play,” Valparaiso coach Barak Coolman told News-Sentinel.com recently. “He has shown that because he is so smart and kind of finds his way to score and play the right way he has just continued to prove himself.”
Following Fort Wayne’s offer, other mid-majors such as hometown Valpo, Ball State and Toledo all jumped on board with the 6-foot-4 athlete but with seemingly each passing performance more (and higher) offers are coming his way.
Purdue recently offered Newman, as has DePaul, Florida State, Xavier, and Kansas State.
“He’s had a lot of interest and a lot of (schools) just wanted to see him play this spring,” Coolman continued. “He’s continued to produce and obviously you can see what he is capable of doing. He’s going to be big time on the next level.”
He very well may be but he already is “big time” on THIS level.
Newman averaged 25 points and nine rebounds per game for the Vikings this past season in just 25 minutes of action each night.
For the first time in seven years, Valparaiso won its IHSAA Class 4A sectional before falling in overtime to Elkhart Memorial in the regional.
Newman has helped Coolman’s program win 41 games over the past two seasons.
“He is a tremendous shooter,” Coolman said of Newman. “He’s a great rebounder and does a little bit of everything. He defends, so he is a great and versatile player.”
Newman displayed that versatility in a recent game against the Indiana Senior All-Stars.
After battling the flu all day and making the nearly five-hour drive to New Albany, Newman opened the game very strong offensively but wore down – to a degree – as the game continued.
He finished having made 6 of 15 shots and scoring 18 points in 29 minutes.
“Brandon is very athletic and plays hard,” Coolman said following the game. “He’s got a good nose for the game and is very coachable.”
The Junior All-Star squad took a 56-49 lead into the second half against their older counterparts and Senior All-Star coach Jim Shannon put his best defender, 2018 Indiana Mr. Basketball Romeo Langford, on Newman in the second half in order to give his team a chance to rally.
Langford’s defense proved effective but not always.
At one juncture in the second half, Newman was isolated on Langford and he drove him to the rim and rose up and finished through the McDonald’s All-American.
“He has just continued to progress,” Coolman said of his star. “Brandon is just a great teammate and does a little bit of everything.”
Newman sank 53 3-pointers as a junior and that came at a 43 percent rate.
“Brandon has a soft jump shot,” Coolman said. “I call him a shot maker, not a shot taker.”
Prior to his time at Valparaiso, Coolman coached former Indiana All-Star guard Bryson Scott and his twin brother, Brenton, at Northrop High School in Fort Wayne.
Bryson just finished a very successful career under Coffman with the Mastodons, while Brenton had a spectacular career at Indiana State.
Coolman said that those two and Newman have some differences in their games but also some similarities.
“Brenton and Bryson were always kind of playing downhill,” Coolman explained. “Brandon is more of a surgeon, where he kind of lets things come to him and takes time to read. But all three of them are great scorers and Brandon is a really, really pure shooter.”
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