Philly’s top high school basketball recruit, Neumann-Goretti senior guard Ja'Quan Newton, orally committed to the University of Miami on Wednesday.
Newton, a four-star recruit and the 67th-ranked player in the Class of 2014 according to ESPN, chose Miami over Syracuse, UCLA, Minnesota, Texas A&M, and Oregon.
Syracuse has had success recruiting in Philadelphia, with former Neumann-Goretti standouts Rick Jackson and Antonio "Scoop" Jardine along with Life Center's Dion Waiters playing for the Orange in recent years, but could not get Newton.
Miami is a good fit for Newton's skills. The guard cited "their style of play with their pick and rolls and ball screens" as one of the main factors in his decision and described Miami as "the best situation for me."
"That's all I've done in high school and AAU," Newton said, "pick and rolls and ball screens."
"He's long and he's going to be able to break guys down and make plays for himself and others," Neumann-Goretti coach Carl Arrigale said.
The 6-foot-2 Southwest Philadelphia native made his decision after a standout summer. The city's top high school player averaged more than 20 points in the AAU Super Showcase in Orlando and helped his team reach the semifinals two weekends ago.
Despite not taking a formal visit to Miami, Newton told his coaches he was ready to commit Tuesday night. After heeding their advice to sleep it over, Newton was comfortable enough with the decision to make it official Wednesday.
"They’ve been on him for a long time, so he’s comfortable with the situation," Arrigale said of Miami. "He sounded great and really at ease and happy with it."
"I've known for a while now," Newton said. "I just waited things out and weighed my options."
According to Arrigale, Miami has recruited Newton for "well over a year" and Newton had talked about Miami as a possibility last year.
Newton, who plans to take a formal visit in September, was ready to end the recruiting process.
"I wanted to get it out of the way," Newton said. "I was tired of it with everyone asking where I was going and people calling.
"I can go into my senior year free and just play."
Arrigale noticed Newton getting more attention leading up to his decision.
"Some schools thought he would stay home, and when they realized he could go away, interest went up," he said. "Outside the area, I think [Miami] was coming the hardest, and they did a good job."