While most fourth graders in the United States are grappling with the basics of the sport, nine-year-old Jaden Newman is already playing basketball like a pro. In fact she’s so good that she’s been approached by Miami University – they’ve asked her to keep them in mind when the time comes for her to make her college choice. Getting recruited by a college-level team is no mean feat, and it’s really astonishing that Jaden has managed to achieve it at such a young age.
Playing basketball alongside older players isn’t new to Jaden – she’s already been through two seasons on the girl’s high school varsity team at Downey Christian School, a private school in Orlando, Florida. Her stats are mind blowing; at just 4 foot 5 inches tall, she’s averaged 14.5 points and 7.5 assists per game while playing against teenagers this past season. Her performance gained her national prominence, and now that she has the offer from Miami University, she’s believed to be the youngest female player to ever get recruited by a Division I program.
Jamie Newman, Jaden’s father and coach of her basketball team, admitted that he was surprised when he first got the call from Miami assistant coach Derrick Gibbs. “I thought it was for my son. I understand why, though, because she has an amazing skill set at 9 years old, and her potential is through the roof.” When asked if the college attention would increase the pressure on Jaden’s performance, Newman said he wasn’t too worried about that. “She’s so level headed. She’s on the right path with colleges already looking at her.” Jaden agrees with her dad: “I just feel like a pretty normal fourth grader. I’m just gonna keep practicing and keep doing what I’m doing now.”
According to Newman, he and his wife passed on their love of basketball to their children. Jaden started playing when she was only three, and her dream is to play for the defending national champion, University of Connecticut. “Kids like to play Xbox and Playstation, or be on Instagram and Twitter, but she wants to play basketball,” said Newman. “She’s gifted with that passion and drive that she has.” Her brother Julian, 12, is also a basketball prodigy – the sixth grader played on the Downey Christian varsity boys team this winter.
So far, Miami has been the only school to contact Jaden with an offer; the Hurricanes sent her an official recruiting letter in April and she has been to the University on an unofficial visit since then. “They showed me around, they showed me their basketball court, and they showed me all of their campus. It was nice,” she said. But she has nine years to go before she gets to college, and Newman is quite aware that a lot can change in that time. “Coaches come and go all the time, so the whole staff could change two or three times in that time frame.” Recruits do not actually sign a binding national Letter of Intent until their senior year of high school.
“Especially with the recruiting game, though, I can see why Miami did this. She does stuff some college girls can’t do. When she gets older, bigger and stronger, I could see why a college would want to put that name out there and build that relationship,” said Newman.