Penn State's leading scorer, D.J. Newbill, thought he was going to play for Marquette. But as the Philadelphia greats that ruled the hardwood before him, the Strawberry Mansion grad has found that the path to success is rocky, and sometimes downright impassable.
Aaron Carter, the Penn State basketball writer for the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa., wrote a column today that was in part a tribute to his father, former Sixers player and Ben Franklin High School graduate Fred Carter, and in part about how the lives of players like his dad, Earl "The Pearl" Monroe and Aaron McKie have affected Newbill.
Carter writes of Newbill:
... Long before the first unfortunate utterance of “Philly swagger,” basketball in the city was simply about survival.
It’s a concept D.J. Newbill is familiar with.
The young man from Philadelphia who grew up on 33rd and Cumberland streets about three miles from where my dad grew up eons ago — has endured hardship like few at 20 years old should have to.
He lost his mentor and father figure, John Hardnett, in May 2010 when the Philadelphia basketball legend died at age 56 from complications with diabetes. A month later, Marquette rescinded Newbill’s scholarship offer to make room for an incoming transfer from Oregon. Then, this past September, he lost his mother, Tawanda Roach, to cancer, a woman he describes as his “everything.”
But he’s survived to become Penn State’s leading scorer this season. And while his story is yet to be written in full, he sounds like a young man who just seems to get it.
Newbill is entering a fraternity of men who have rewritten the typical script of poverty and despair in Philadelphia, breaking a cycle that generations continue to spin around in hopelessly, endlessly.
Carter also includes some great stories, including how his dad was given the nickname "Mad Dog" by Ray Scott, another Philly-bred player, during a one-on-one drill while playing under Gene Shue in Baltimore.