One-on-One With Jeff Newberry: Part One

Jeff Newberry feels right at home in Stillwater. The junior college honorable mention All-American arrived at Oklahoma State in June as one of six newcomers expected to play for the Cowboys next season. We recently visited with Newberry about a variety of topics, including playing baseball with Bryce Harper while growing up, attending his fourth college in four years, and his love for reading.

The 6-2, 190-pound guard signed with OSU in November. He averaged 13.5 points, 3.7 assists and 2.1 rebounds as a sophomore this past season while earning honorable mention All-America recognition in leading New Mexico Junior College to a 27-7 record and the NJCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship.

Newberry, originally from Atlanta, redshirted his first season at Ole Miss before transferring to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Junior College in Miami, Okla., where he averaged a team-high 14.4 points, 4.3 assists and 2.9 rebounds as a freshman. He then moved on to New Mexico Junior College for the 2013-14 season. OSU will be his fourth program in the past four years.

Here is the first of a two-part series in which we visit with Newberry.

What do you think of Stillwater?
Newberry: I like Stillwater. You know, I went to junior college in Miami, Oklahoma (at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M). I love Stillwater so far. It’s everything I thought it would be.

How are the summer pick-up games going with your new teammates?
Newberry: Pick-up (games) are going real good. It’s real competitive. Everybody is getting better every day.

In the pickup games, which of your new teammates has impressed you the most?
Newberry: A kid that a lot of people don’t know about because he didn’t play last year, he redshirted, is Jeffrey Carroll. He’s been very impressive. I’m going to go out on a limb and say he shoots it probably as good as (Phil) Forte. A lot of people don’t know that. I haven’t seen it in a game yet but he shoots the ball very well. When he misses some shots he sometimes gets down (on himself) and doesn’t want to continue shoot. We’ve got to tell him to keep shooting. Jeffrey Carroll has impressed me the most.

What are your thoughts on Le’Bryan Nash?
Newberry: LB has really expanded his game. You can tell he’s more of a leader. He’s pushing himself in practice, he’s in the gym all the time. He’s also hitting the three. In pickup games, he’s probably pulling up more and shooting the three, and he’s probably hitting 9 out of 10. LB has been playing great. You always know what you’re going to get from LB. He’s very competitive and hates to lose.

Any other newcomers who have impressed you?
Newberry: Anthony Hickey, who transferred from LSU. He goes against (true freshman) Tyree Griffin a lot but sometimes when the two of us aren’t on the same team I try to go guard him. That gets very competitive because we know each other from the past.

This summer you’re also able to work with the coaches. Who do you work with and what part of your game have you been working to improve?
Newberry: Coach (Chris) Ferguson and coach (Butch) Pierre. Coach Pierre stays on me a lot about defense. Coach Ferguson and coach (Travis) Ford have been working with me on shooting the ball, getting my feet set. And coach (James) Dickey too.

What have you concentrated on this summer in preparation for your first season at OSU?
Newberry: For the most part just knocking the three-ball down more consistently and not being lazy. I get to those points sometimes where I want to slack off because of my athletic ability. But since I’ve been here I’ve been going hard and some of the coaches have been surprised by that.

Do you believe you’re going to have to step your game up to another level now?
Newberry: I played my freshman year at Ole Miss in the SEC, and although I redshirted I kinda got a feel for the pace. I know I’m going to have to step my game up.

Four teams in four years. Do you feel like you’re ready to settle down at OSU?
Newberry: Oh yeah, I want to be here for two years. I finally feel like I’ve found a home where I’m comfortable and I want to be here for two years.

With Marcus Smart and Markel Brown now in the NBA, and with Le’Bryan Nash, Phil Forte and Michael Cobbins returning, what do you see your role being with this team?
Newberry: I know that I’m going to have to score a little bit, but really I want to do whatever this teams needs. I’m not trying to come in and take over the team. We’ve got great captains in Phil and Le’Bryan. I’m just going to try to do whatever we need.

Are you a point guard or do you view yourself as someone who can play both guard positions?
Newberry: I can see myself playing both positions. I can kinda see myself playing a little bit like Markel did (last year). I played point guard the last two years (in junior college), and feel like I’ve got the point guard down. I’m comfortable at point guard and I think I’ll be playing a lot at point, more so than the two. But I could see myself playing a lot at both really.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Check back later this week for part two of our visit with Newberry as he talks about playing on a traveling baseball team with Bryce Harper as a youngster, his love of reading books, and much more.)


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