LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A compact cubicle served as the locker room for the Indiana All-Stars at Bellarmine University for their first of a two-game series against the Kentucky All-Stars.
After Friday's game, the locker room was filled with joyous Hoosiers following a 97-64 victory against the bordering state’s best players. In the corner of the cubicle, squeezed inside one of the locker spaces was former Valparaiso High School basketball player and Purdue incoming freshman Brandon Newman, quietly scrolling through his phone.
The next day, after Newman and his fellow All-Stars dominated Kentucky once again, this time in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, 120-74, the team began singing “Sweet Caroline” on the bus after the game. But Newman wasn’t singing, rather sitting in the back row with his headphones over his head while he scrolled through his phone.
Unsocial? That’s not the right word to describe the second all-time leading scorer in Valparaiso High School history. Quiet and humble fit the mold for Purdue’s future guard.
Newman makes the most noise on the court.
The 6-foot-4 guard is very vocal on the hardwood, calling out switches and defensive rotations. His offense is methodical, using screens to get a defender at his back, creating a decision for the pick-and-roll defender to come up or stay back, which allows Newman to either get to his smooth mid-range jumper or attack the paint.
His sweet stroke makes him a threat behind the 3-point line. At Bellarmine, Newman was 3 of 4 behind the arc and scored a game-high 18 points. In Indianapolis, Newman only needed four points in the second-most lopsided game in series history, and he only played 14 minutes.
After Saturday’s game, Newman went to West Lafayette the next day and was scheduled to start summer classes Monday.
Even though his transition from green and white to black and gold has begun, Newman said he will always be grateful for his four years spent at Valparaiso.
“Being at Valpo for four years has a lot to do with the man and basketball player I am today,” Newman said. “They really took me in. Took care of me and I call that place home.”
His junior season, Newman helped Valparaiso win the sectional title and his senior season, he averaged 27.2 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Against Concord, Newman broke the program record when he scored 49 points in the game, and he finished his career tied for second in points with Bryce Drew at 1,577 points.
Although his final year as a Viking almost didn’t happen. One year ago, Newman was trying to decide if he wanted to stay in Northwest Indiana or attend a prep school in Florida.
“It started with wanting to be prepared for college the following season,” Newman said. “I felt like pursuing a private school and being surrounded with other Division I talent, being on a college-like campus would benefit me most for the next level.”
Newman decided to stay home just to be closer to home and to be there for his mom.
He called the recruiting process with Purdue long, and he wanted to make sure he was going to a place that would put him in a position to not only be a successful basketball player, but a successful person.
“I thought Purdue was that place for me,” Newman said.
On Nov. 14, 2018, he officially signed his national letter of intent.
Even though his senior season may not have ended the way he had hoped — losing to Chesterton in the sectional championship on March 2 — the month of March still provided Newman with excitement.
He was able to sit back and watch as Carsen Edwards and Ryan Cline led the Boilermakers to an Elite Eight appearance, and just seconds away from a Final Four.
“It’s a pretty surreal feeling to say the least,” Newman said. “I was pretty excited for those guys.”
Edwards, who averaged 34.8 points per game in the NCAA Tournament, declared for the NBA Draft even though he has one year of eligibility remaining. It was a bitter-sweet feeling for Newman because he said he would have loved to have the opportunity to play with someone of Edwards' caliber, but also sees it as an opportunity.
Cline also graduated, which leaves two of Purdue’s three starting guard slots open for next season.
Newman will be heading to Purdue with Zionville’s Isaiah Thompson, who played alongside him in the starting lineup of the Indiana All-Star games. Thompson scored 17 points on Friday and his eccentric personality had him dancing after 3-pointers and on the bench.
Even though Newman might not break out dance moves and catch somebody’s eye off the court, he hopes to draw eyes at the collegiate level as he enters his next chapter of basketball.
“I’m humble, hungry and determined,” Newman said. “Nothing will be given. I have to work for whatever I get.”