It’s a question often posed by teammates to one another: would you rather be a great player on an mediocre team or a benchwarmer on a great team? DJ Newbill was for 3 years the best player on a less than mediocre team. And he poured his heart and soul into the Penn State basketball program for 3 years. All the emotions of a storied career spilled over after Newbill’s legendary college career came to a close with Penn State’s loss to Purdue in the Big Ten Quarterfinals 64-59.
“DJ Newbill cried so hard as the buzzer sounded that he covered his face and nearly collapsed to the floor.”- Statecollege.com Ben Jones
Photo via usatoday.com
But in no way was this your run-of-the-mill end of career cry. Newbill endured more than anyone should have, losing his mother to cancer before she ever got to witness him play a collegiate game at Penn State. Newbill had transferred from Southern Miss to be closer to his mother. Newbill somehow overcame an unthinkable loss and averaged 16.3 points per contest. He continued to improve each year at Penn State. Scoring 17.8 PPG his junior season and 20.7 PPG in his senior season.
He didn’t just lead Penn State’s program, he put the entire team on his shoulders and carried them for 3 years. In Newbill’s 3 years at Penn State, the Nittany Lions secured a CBI berth and their first winning season since 2010-11. If this was professional basketball, Newbill would be the definition of a franchise player but this is the rough and tumble world of college basketball and Newbill must move on.
As the Big Ten’s leading scorer Newbill was snubbed from the All Big Ten 1st team. It is disappointing to see a player so talented, who has endured so much be shorted of an award he undoubtedly deserved. It is just one example of how Newbill has been neglected by mainstream media. Had he played for Ohio State or UCLA, Newbill would have been well known and all-over all star teams. But one of college basketball’s biggest stars is highly under the radar. Which is why I sit here writing this. To recognize one of college basketball’s best current players. He may have never gotten the national attention he deserved but he carried a program and overcame a gauntlet of obstacles to get where he is today. Here’s to hoping DJ Newbill enjoys a lengthy NBA career. But most of all…
Thank you DJ.