New Indiana basketball coach Mike Woodson landed a commitment from another high-level recruit Friday as he continues to build momentum for the moribund program in the early stages of his tenure.
Four-star class of 2023 guard Jakai Newton picked the Hoosiers on Friday out of a top three that also included Georgia and Vanderbilt. The Covington, Georgia, native is Indiana's first commitment in the 2023 class, the 67th-ranked player in the country and the No. 12 combo guard, according to 247sports.com.
“I kind of knew it from the jump,” the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Newton said of his decision to play for the Hoosiers. “(The way) coach Woodson and coach Ya(sir Rosemond) treated my family, they welcomed me.”
Newton traveled to Bloomington for an official visit last weekend and came away impressed with Woodson's down-to-earth attitude.
“He talked about how he would help me as a person and as a player,” Newton told Peegs.com of his talks with the 63-year-old Indiana coach. “As far as being humble, you can't really tell he's a famous person. He takes pictures with everybody. People walk up to him and say hi. He's super nice to everybody.”
In Newton, the Hoosiers would be getting a player who can contribute immediately as a freshman, able to beat players off the dribble, create for others, shoot a little from the outside and guard multiple spots on defense.
Woodson has recruited several of those players to the program since he took the job in late March. He added Xavier Johnson from the transfer portal to run the team's offense this season, signed talented freshman Tamar Bates and garnered a commitment from five-star 2022 guard Jalen Hood-Schifino.
“It starts with his toughness and competitiveness on both of ends of the court,” 247sports.com analyst Travis Branham said of Newton. “He's a physically impressive guard and he's an electric athlete. He loves to get out in the open court and make highlight-reel plays. He's at his best when he's getting downhill and attacking the rim.”
It has been a busy recruiting period for the Hoosiers. In addition to Newton's commitment, they are hoping to land 6-9 four-star 2022 power forward Noah Clowney, whose decision will come Nov. 1. Indiana also hosted 2023 Indianapolis center Xavier Booker on an official visit this week.
As for Newton, it would be more than two years before he puts on an IU uniform, barring a reclassification. But he's already thought about what he can bring to Bloomington.
“I bring energy, every game, every play,” the guard said. “It's going to be loud, a lot of dunks and (I'll) try to bring a lot of winning too.”