July 08, 2011
Harvard-Westlake basketball is known for having overpowering big men. In 2006, Alex Stephenson started the tradition, earning third team All-American honors before committing to prestigious North Carolina. Erik Swoope helped revive the big man legacy for the Wolverines during a dominant 2009 campaign that saw him commit to Miami, while last year Colorado bound power forward Damiene Cain led Harvard-Westlake to a CIF title.
With his four Pac-12 offers it’s clear senior Zena Edosomwan will help preserve the big man legacy this year at Harvard-Westlake, but the recent emergence of sophomore forward Derick Newton ensures that even after Edosomwan graduates, the big man tradition will be in good hands.
Newton was forced to sit out his entire freshman season due to shoulder surgery but at the Fairfax tournament he showed the skill set and potential that make him a prospect to keep a close eye on.
At 6’6 Newton has ideal size for a power forward at the high school level but should grow at least another inch or two. His offensive game has great versatility as he can hit jump shots from outside as well as take it to the rack. His release is quick and fluid and his range extends all the way out to the three-point line. At this point he is more of a spot-up shooter then an off the dribble shooter but Newton says improving his shooting is his number one off-season goal.
What really makes Derick such an offensive force is his ability to take the ball to the basket and finish through contact. Even though he is just a sophomore, Derick was physically overwhelming against top-level competition at Fairfax. He loves starting with the ball at the perimeter and attacking the basket, using his power to create space to give him open looks at the rim. He can drive and finish with either hand, skills rarely seen in players this age. Guys seem to just bounce off him when he drives and he does an incredible job of drawing contact and is a really good free throw shooter.
On the defensive end, Derick is a solid rebounder who uses his strength to prevent opposing big men to get position near the basket. He can block shots and has nice instincts on that end of the court.
Even though he is only a sophomore Newton already boasts an offer from Oklahoma and has interest from UCLA and USC. If he plays as well in the regular season as he did at Fairfax he will draw plenty of attention from scouts and Newton benefits from the fact that scouts will be in attendance at many of his games thanks to the presence of teammates Edosomwan and Josh Hearlihy.