Young, Gifted & Black Series
By Taki S. Raton
Her favorite television shows are on the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon writes Christy Cabrera Chirinos in the June 18, 2014 Sun Sentinel.
And although this 9 year old is seven years from getting her driver’s license, our YG&B feature is the youngest athlete ever to be recruited by a major college athletic program.
She is young, gifted and Black.
While only in the fourth grade, Jaden Newman is playing varsity high school basketball for Downer Christian School in Orlando, Florida. This 4-foot-7 spirited talent averages 14.8 points and 7.5 assists per game.
Jaden actually started playing varsity as a third grader according to her dad, Jamie Newman, as reported in an ESPN June 24, 2014 account. Newman in the Sentinel further reveals that his daughter has been playing alongside older boys since she was 3 years-old.
“That helped her develop into one of the strongest ball handlers on her high school team, even at her young age.”
He adds that Jaden, “wants to be like Diana Taurasi. She wants to play for her country, for Connecticut, and in the WNBA.”
Taurasi is a professional basketball player who plays for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA.
In 2011, she was voted by her fans as one of the top 15 all-time players in WNBA history.
Downer Christian is a small independent kindergarten through 12th grade coed school serving 260 students and is able to operate outside of the jurisdiction of Florida’s High School Athletic Association according to Huff Post Sports, December 19, 2012.
Newman is also Downey’s varsity basketball team’s coach where Jaden plays the position of point guard.
Her brother Julian who is in the 6th grade is also on the boys’ varsity team and is averaging over 16 points per game this season.
Providing a model foundation and mirror reflection for his sister, Julian was quite the up and coming pre-teen basketball star in a variety of sports writings in 2011 and 2012.
He was described by his father in the Post article as having, “a tremendous skill level. He has moves that even NBA players don’t have.
He does stuff that hasn’t been done before with the ball.”
So as not to be outdone by brother Julian – although respectfully, it’s all in the family – Jaden is lauded by Mike Lucas in his January 9, 2014 sports posting as being just “unbelievable!”
“Jaden is out there making defenders fall, hitting three pointers, and is even getting into lane and finishing despite being half the size of every other girl on the court.”
John “Henry” Harris in the June 17, 2014 Boss account describes Jaden as being one of the best young basketball players in America who has, “a crossover like Allen Iverson and handles the ball like Muggsy Bogus.”
Fox Sports on January 21, 2014 would further report that young Jaden has accomplished a feat that not even LeBron James – “the gold standard of basketball prodigies” – ever did.
Trevor Pryce is a former American football defensive end who played fourteen seasons in the National Football League (NFL).
He was a first-team All Pro and made four Pro Bowls while piling up 91 career sacks.
Fox Sports notes the occasion where our 4-foot-7, 9 year-old fourth grader went toe-to-toe with Pryce and in the article’s words, “left him in the dust.”
And even at such a young age, Jaden has already been the recruiting target of a Division I basketball program, the University of Miami.
Earlier this past June, Jaden received an official recruiting letter from the University of Miami’s girls’ basketball program. Facilitated by assistant coach Derrick Gibbs, the initial contact was channeled through Jaden’s Downey school to her father.
On June 10, Jaden and dad took what is described as an “unofficial” recruiting visit to the University of Miami where she toured the program’s athletic facilities.
Newman in the Sentinel expressed surprise when he was initially approached by Miami’s assistant coach reaching out to his family regarding interest in the fourth grader.
But as a proud father with an insightful holistic perspective, he is quoted in Chirinos:
“I want her to take it as what it is, an experience. Learn from this and see what hard work can do for you.
If you become a basketball player, if you become a dentist, whatever you do in life, if you work hard, you’ll be rewarded. The more you put in it, the more you get out of it.”
Speaking to Miami’s strategy of approaching Jaden at such an early stage in her life, Davie, Florida’s Nova High School’s head girls’ basketball coach Jason Hively says that he is very familiar with the University of Miami’s athletic staff.
“They’re a national program in the ACC, and one of the top conferences in the country for women’s hoops.
They need to be recruiting now and looking ahead if they want to stay on top of the game.”
Having worked with high school basketball players for 14 years, Hively adds that, “There are people in the women’s game like Miami coach Katie Meier and coach Gibbs that want to try and promote women basketball.
This is a great way to promote it and say, ‘We’re watching the kids. We’re doing our job.’ I think it’s great.”
Hall of Fame coach Marcia Pinder also in the Sentinel says of Jaden, “I’m anxious to see her play.
I respect Miami and I know that she must be a great player if Miami is going after her.
She must be phenomenal. She must be outstanding because Miami’s coaches are very, very good.
They’re visible, they come to watch the girls practice.
They’re a dedicated group.”
However if truth be told, Jaden’s first choice, it is reported, is playing for the University of Connecticut.
“If she decides to stay in Florida, Miami would be great,” says her dad in Chirinos.
“For us, this is all truly a blessing, especially with the cost of tuition rising.
Never mind eight years from now what tuition will be.
To see your child excelling in some avenues that will become a scholarship for them is something as a parent you wish for your child; that they could get a scholarship in some form be it soccer, basketball, or being a straight ‘A’ student. It’s a blessing.”