“Radar Contact” SOUTH – Florida’s Asa Newell

By: Keith Agran

FORT WALTON BEACH, FL – There are prospects on the rise, and then there are sky-rocketing prospects.

After his summer with 1Family and dominating fall on the FL Showcase scene, 6-9 2024 forward and former Georgia-native Asa Newell of Choctawhatchee HS on the Florida panhandle is in rocket-mode and has eyes trained on him from the highest college sources. You can hardly find a player garnering more attention anywhere in the Southeast in the 2024 class than this dynamic small forward, readers can peek in on his Twitter at @NewellAsa for a bevy of impressive clips of him taking apart defenses.

Here are some highlights from my conversation last month with him:

Young for his grade (just turned 16 in October) but obviously displaying gifts, on when it clicked for him that he wanted to put in the work needed to be a better player:

“It was my 7th-grade summer when I decided I wanted to be knockdown shooter. I used to shoot it like a catapult, we’d go up the local community center and my Dad would set up a video camera with an app to track all my shots and we’d stay up there for hours. I was really blessed to be able to get in gyms, my middle school coach would open up the gym for me (too).”

On handling Covid when it emerged near the end of his 8th-grade year and trying to stay sharp:

“At the end of my 8th-grade year, went to Choctaw for a few workouts, then Covid really hit, so me, my brother (2022 Choctaw forward Jaden) and my Dad, we had a trainer and we would practice outside on these early summer mornings. working on ballhandling, working on shooting, and 1Family was supposed to have an 8th-grade team but they didn’t, so I played up with the 15U team. So working out with them on the weekends, that summer I started to become more known as a big-man shooter.”

Having just turned 16, yet physically much more developed than most at this stage, it hasn’t been a chip on his shoulder being younger or hindered his development at all leading to now:

“I’ve just developed naturally, I didn’t really want to play up, but my Dad would just tell me how much better this (experience) is going to make me, how much the game’s going to slow down for me when I start playing with them, and I’m really glad I did it. Because before I played basketball, I was a soccer player, and it wasn’t as intense as basketball, so playing with older guys really slowed the game down (for me).”

On his experience playing for 1Family, one of Florida’s most prestigious organizations:

“1Family really wants guys that want to step up to the challenge, and working with them has really given me more aggressiveness. I’m really trying to be more of a ballhandler, working with (Coach Darryl Hardin) getting me better, working with 1Family they want the most out of you.”

On his development this past spring and summer, talking “speed” of the game, still playing 15U but now with kids his own age and grade, and a full AAU campaign under his belt:

“So in March (at my first tournament) I played terrible, I was just playing so fast, Darryl would just tell me to slow down, let the game to come to me, I was trying to make my moves too fast, he’d tell me to take my time,l feel it out, so ever since I started slowing down it’s just been butter. Coming out of June, I’ve just come a long way.”

His June Live Period work with Choctaw was hindered by a coaching change, so it wasn’t a perfectly smooth time back with his high school guys. But now to the fall when the football guys get back, Newell feels pretty good about things for the 5A state runners-up (losing to Pembroke Pines), especially playing one more season with his brother, 6-8 prospect Jaden.

“We went to the FSU camp (in June) and played pretty straight even though most of our guys weren’t there yet, now football season is starting to end and we have a new head coach that we love. He (Jaden) has actually been out injured with a little bone bruising in his ankle, but he should be back in a few weeks. Jaden’s been working out a lot, he’s got a knockdown 3-pt shot now, has a really nice mid-range game, he will run through a brick wall for you.”

On how this year is looking for another deep playoff run:

“Last year was kind of the senior show, we actually have a transfer coming in (Keon Haynes) from another local school and his IQ is unreal, we’ve got some studs on our team this year. We have a lot of guard play, some nice sized bigs, we’ll be straight this year.”

On the backs of the Newell brothers, should be fun to keep an eye trained on 5A in Florida. As for his own recruitment, Asa is just entering his sophomore year but D1’s Illinois, GA Tech, Ole Miss and Oklahoma St have offered, and that list is going to turn into a short novel as the season heats up with the kind of explosion Newell’s shown with his recent performances leading up to the start of practice most notably.

1Family’s 16U and 17u teams next spring should be formidable once again with Newell guiding the 16’s, and 2023 forward Dylan James (another feature in Radar Contact SOUTH) leading the 17’s.

Keith Agran has lived in Georgia since 2011 and joined OTR as a National Evaluator in 2021. He previously scouted for Prep Hoops dating back to 2019 and has both a championship-coaching background on the HS-level and daily newspaper writing experience, both from New Jersey. You can reach him at keithagran1@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @BracketSage.