D.J. Newbill, the former Strawberry Mansion star who over the summer became Pat Chambers’ first Penn State player from Philadelphia, hopes other players from the area follow suit.
After all, it was a couple of Philly guys who sold Newbill on Chambers, and in turn, were a big part of his decision to transfer to Penn State from Southern Mississippi. Though he knew about Chambers’ work as an assistant to Jay Wright at Villanova, Newbill wanted to do more research.
“I had to make sure that I knew a lot about him,” said the 6-foot-4, 210-pound combo guard.
Newbill enlisted the help of other Philly guards familiar with Chambers. He talked to his friend D.J. Irving (Chester, Pa., Archbishop Carroll), who played his freshman season under Chambers at Boston University last year.
He also spoke with Villanova point guard Malik Wayns, a former star at Roman Catholic who Chambers helped recruit for the Wildcats, and Houston Rockets point guard Kyle Lowry, who played at Villanova from 2004-06.
“Everybody said he was a great guy,” Newbill said. “Malik, he was just saying that he’s a good dude and he’s definitely going to look out. He’s going to help you get better and push you. Coach, he treats us like we’re his kids. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for us... Kyle was basically saying the same thing.”
“When I met (Chambers) for the first time he was a real genuine guy. I felt like he was honest and I wanted to play for him.”
Chambers said Penn State got lucky with Newbill’s transfer. The first-year Penn State coach was a little familiar with Newbill from when he recruited for Villanova and watched the area's high school players.
“I think (Newbill) wants to be coached and I think he wants to be driven,” Chambers said. “He knows I coached some really good guards and I think he just wanted to be a part of that. I give him a lot of credit.”
The Nittany Lions began practice Oct. 14 and in those first five or so practices, Newbill impressed Chambers. Team managers compile statistics in practice and games for “Attitude Club,” a system Chambers implemented to help keep track of on-court performance and attitude.
Newbill, who has to sit out this season due to NCAA transfer rules, practiced five times before fracturing his left shoulder diving for a loose ball. But in those five practices, Chambers said Newbill lost “Attitude Club” only once to point guard Tim Frazier, the team's lone returning starter.
“He brought some toughness and an attitude that we need, and he is great in the locker room,” Chambers said of Newbill. “He is another guy who is on the sideline, but not just in his own world, doing his own thing. He is into the team, firing them up and getting the huddles going. He is starting to show his leadership and inject his personality into this team.”
Doctors estimated a six-week recovery for Newbill's shoulder, the guard said. However, he said he’s healing faster than originally thought and he “should be back actually pretty soon.”
Around this time next year, once people begin to see Newbill play for the Lions, he thinks more guards from the Philadelphia area will flock to Happy Valley to play for Chambers.
“I feel like with me being here, a lot of guys can see me being here and research it, and see how it went and see wonderful of a place it is,” Newbill said. “I didn’t know it was this nice up here.”