Ja’Quan Newton is a four-star recruit ranked 41st in the nation by Rivals and 67th by ESPN. The point guard, who has talked about ultimately teaming up with five-star recruit Isaiah Whitehead in choosing a college, is one of the Gophers’ top targets for 2014. The Philadelphia native is tough, has great court vision and is capable of scoring in bunches – traits that were put on display at last weekend’s NIKE Peach Jam in South Carolina. I caught up with him there to talk about his recruitment, and his early thoughts on Minnesota and Gophers coach Richard Pitino.
When did Pitino first contact you and what did he have to say? After NBA camp. I had a good NBA camp and then I got a call from Minnesota. They said they want me in their program, they want me to be their guy. … He just told me that I’m the guy he wants, I’m his No. 1 target, the No. 1 point guard on his list and he wants me to come there and run the show.
There are a bunch of rumors about you and Isaiah ganging up and heading to the same college? Is that real? We’re thinking about it right now. We’re just thinking. We might go there, we might not. And if it happens that we go there, we go there.
Have you two talked about that for a long time or is that something that just came up recently? It just came up recently. I knew Isaiah and he knew me but we really weren’t that close until we went to all the camps like NBA, Lebron camp, Deron Williams. And we got real close, we got a bond like we’re brothers.
What is it about playing with him that you like so much? I think we complement each other’s games. I can get him points, he can get me points; we’re both drive-and-kick guys – so we’re good.
What are the schools mutually recruiting you guys? Miami, SMU, Minnesota of course, Syracuse, USC, Seton Hall, Temple, Villanova …
So you guys would have quite a few options if you did decide to do that. Yeah.
What do you like about Minnesota? I like coach Pitino. I saw him coach when he was at his previous school. I like his style of play, you know, he gets up and down, run, pick and roll, that’s my game.
Are you planning on narrowing anytime soon? Yes, I’m going to cut it to 5.
When? Probably after everything’s over, after the July period.
What about visits? Anything in the works? Not quite yet, but I’m going to set everything up.
Do you want to do them in the fall? Maybe when school comes back around when there are students on campus.