Freshman guard eager to show his hometown toughness and make his late mother proud.
Sept. 9, 2010
|| Getting to Know Archive
NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma freshman Calvin Newell is a product of his environment. Considering Newell is from a city with a rugged reputation -- Philadelphia, Pa. -- that's probably a good thing for the OU men's basketball program.
In the 6-1, 200-pound Newell, the Sooners are getting a tough and aggressive scoring guard who has multiple forces driving him to work hard and bring an edge to his new team. Newell, who lost his mother to cancer earlier this year, says he is approaching school and basketball as a "full-time job" and wants to eventually serve as "Oklahoma's backbone." He also wants to make his mother proud.
As a first-team All-Pennsylvania selection his senior season at Strath Haven High School, Newell averaged 29.4 points per game. Last year at prep school in North Carolina he averaged 26.1 points per outing and drew the recruiting attention of some fellow big-name college programs.
The fleet-footed Newell took a moment following his Wednesday afternoon workout to discuss his Philadelphia background, his decision to attend Oklahoma, his hunger as a player and what he likes about the 2010-11 Sooners. A Q&A follows below and a separate video interview is available in the player above.
Q: You arrived at OU just a few days before classes started in August. How have you adapted to Norman and how do you like it?
A: "I'm adapting to Norman well. It's great; I love it. All the fans are welcoming, the football games are great, the coaching's great and I'm just working hard, running and trying to get in shape."
Q: How's that going for you?
A: "It's rough. It's rough for everyone in the beginning, but it's getting better."
Q: How did you spend your summer?
A: "I spent most of my summer with my mom. She just passed away from cancer. So I spent half the summer with her until she passed away and I spent the other half waiting to see if I'd be cleared to go to OU."
Q: Has the passing of your mother affected your desire to succeed on the court?
A: "She was really all I had. So I just want to work hard and make her proud. I want to succeed for myself and for the people in my hometown cheering for me, but her passing has motivated me to work hard and it brought a new character out of me. I've just got to put everything aside and just play."
Q: What were the major reasons that you chose OU?
A: "When I came on my visit, the facilities were wonderful and there's 24-hour access. And then I love Coach Capel. He's kind of like a role model to me. He pushes me to work hard no matter how tired I am. His whole coaching staff pushes me."
Q: What are some of the other things you like about Coach Capel?
A: "He was a player, so he can relate to you. He knows the struggles, he knows what it's like getting into shape, knows what it's like to be a player. Some coaches were never players so they can't really relate. He played my position, so why not play for a guy who succeeded as a point guard? He can teach me stuff I can learn to improve as a player and a person."
Q: What are your biggest strengths as a basketball player?
A: "I believe I'm a creator. I'm athletic, I can jump, I can run, I can dribble and shoot well. I just try to create for my team."
Q: What aspects of your game have you been focusing on improving lately?
A: "I've really been focusing on ball handling and getting into shape. I'm in good shape, but I want to be in great shape."
Q: You've got a reputation as a guy who can put the ball in the basket with regularity. How do you like to get your points?
A: "I like going to the basket a lot, I like shooting. Most people my size can't really take it off the bounce like I can. I'm really fast, so that helps me."
Q: What was it like growing up in Philadelphia? Is the city as tough as it's made out to be?
A: "I believe so; a hundred percent tough. You start off playing in your backyard and then you start playing on outdoor courts. I didn't start playing indoor basketball until the 10th grade. But yeah, it's as tough as they say."
Q: How has growing up there influenced your play on the court?
A: "I believe it makes me an animal. I'm aggressive. That's my game. I don't like anyone scoring on me and I'm going to go at you no matter what. Philadelphia is a city where nothing's handed to you. You have to go get it. Your whole attitude -- you have to walk around aggressive. If you take it easy in Philadelphia, you'll get taken advantage of. You have to always be on your toes. It's a fast city, so you have to always know what's going on around you."
Q: Coach Capel has said that you have a chip on your shoulder, in a good way. What do you think he means by that?
A: "I don't think a lot of people thought I'd make it this far. A lot of people have denied my talent, denied me as a player, denied me as a lot of things in life. But I've made it to OU. Some people can't say that, but I can. I'm going to work hard to stay here and actually play. As far as the chip on the shoulder, I want to prove people who doubted me wrong. I want to win as badly as Coach Capel does."
Q: How would you describe yourself as a person?
A: "I'm really quiet, like to laugh, just laidback. I hang out with all my teammates, but especially Cameron Clark and Abdul (Ahmed). They call us the three amigos around campus."
Q: What is it about those two guys that made you latch on to them?
A: "All three of us are freshmen. Cameron and I got here at the same time, and Abdul is just funny so we all hang around each other all the time."
Q: Does Abdul try to be funny or is it unintentional?
A: "No, that's just how he is. He's just funny."
Q: What do you like to do when you're not studying or playing ball?
A: "I work out a lot; every day. I just like to work and improve. This is just like a full-time job now, going to school and playing basketball. You have to perfect your craft and that's what I like to do."
Q: A lot of guys say they like to play video games in their spare time. Do you?
A: "Philadelphia didn't have video games. My mom never bought me any and I've never played them."
Q: How have your individual workouts gone the last couple of weeks and have you noticed improvement in your game or your stamina?
A: "I've noticed a lot of improvement. I came down here in the worst shape and overweight. I'm back to my normal basketball weight now. I'm getting stronger, faster and jumping higher. And my stamina's getting better."
Q. What are some of the things you like about this team?
A: "I like this team because we all work hard. We all try to outwork each other and that's a good thing. Coach Capel emphasizes competing, so we compete all the time. And I like hanging around everyone -- it's a funny team. We share everything like a family. What's mine is theirs and what's theirs is mine."
Q: Have you decided on a major yet or do you have an idea of what you want to study?
A: "No, I haven't decided yet. I'm still trying to get into the swing of all my classes. It's a busy schedule."
Q: Is there anything else about you that you'd like the fans to know?
A: "I'm here at Oklahoma to win and to work hard. I want to be Oklahoma's backbone. I want to bring my Philly attitude to Oklahoma."