Player Profile: Shavar Newkirk

In today's installment of our Player Profile series, Hawk Hill Hardwood looks at a player who will be instrumental to this season's success. As a freshman, Shavar Newkirk played behind senior lead guard Chris Wilson. This year, Newkirk will be looked on to improve on his productivity from a year ago. A complete look at the sophomore, complete with quotes from Coach Duda, is inside.

Shavar Newkirk, now listed at 6-foot, 175-pounds, arrived on Hawk Hill last year with a reputation as one of New York City's top talents. He was a two-time New York Daily News Bronx Player of the Year. He played on the USA Under-18 Select Team in Germany in May of 2014. As a senior at Cardinal Hayes (NY), Newkirk averaged 17 points and 7 assists per game as the key piece on a Hayes team that went 26-2 during his senior year and won the New York City Archdiocesan title.

As a result, expectations were high for the tough, gritty, New York City point guard. However, Shavar struggled for the majority of his freshman campaign. As a freshman at St. Joe's, playing behind Chris Wilson, Newkirk averaged just 3.3 points, 2.3 assists, and 1.7 rebounds per game in just over 20 minutes. Most concerning were his shooting percentages: just 28% from the field, 19% from three, and 57% from the line. Shavar never looked to trust his jumper and seemed to be, at times, overthinking things on the court.

Freshman year struggles are to be expected for most college players. It's the offseason between freshman and sophomore years that often makes a player. So what type of offseason has Newkirk had? St. Joe's assistant coach Dave Duda spoke with Hawk Hill Hardwood about the NYC native.

"Shavar's put in all the necessary work for improvement in all areas," Coach Duda began. "The weight room, agilities, and shooting stroke have all received the attention necessary." Newkirk and fellow freshman James Demery seemed to struggle last year finishing through contact around the rim. Both attributed that to lack of strength. As Coach Duda pointed out, Newkirk appears noticeably stronger than he did a year ago.

Duda continued, talking about what the next step is. "There has been an obvious change in confidence and play. The last step is for him to do it with the lights on. I expect nothing less."

Shavar Newkirk and Lamarr Kimble are in an open competition for the starting point guard spot. According to Phil Martelli, the staff has not yet decided who will get the nod next Friday against Drexel. Whoever starts, it's becoming clear that both Newkirk and Kimble will play this year. With a full season under his belt, and now a full offseason as well, Shavar Newkirk knows what it takes to succeed in the Atlantic 10. As his coach said, now it's all about doing it with the lights on.

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