The University of Miami’s most publicized women’s basketball prospect stands 4-7, weighs 65 pounds and favors ICarly reruns on the Nickelodeon Network and swimming pool play dates with her peers.
Meet 9-year-old phenom Jaden Newman, a two-year varsity star for Orlando Downey Christian making national headlines as the youngest basketball player on record ever recruited by a Division I women’s basketball program.
Although Jaden just completed the fourth grade, UM has seen enough of her off-the-charts court IQ and impressive crossover dribble — highlighted on a YouTube video that has gone viral — to project her as its heir apparent at point guard.
“I want to be the best girl player ever,” Jaden said. “I push myself and train every day. On the court, my teammates treat me like a little sister. When I cross people over, I like to hear the crowd say ‘Ooooh.’ ”
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If leading Downey Christian to a 17-3 record by averaging 14.5 points and 7.5 assists weren’t enough to catch Hurricanes coach Katie Meier’s eye, then the 63 points she poured in for her 11-and-under AAU team against a boys’ team 3 years older, probably would have done the trick.
But when Miami’s recruitment letter was received in the Newman household in April, Jaime Newman, Jaden’s father and coach, believed it was intended for his 12-year-old son, Julian, a phenom in his own right as the No. 1 point guard prospect in the 2020 class.
“I was surprised at first,” Jaime Newman said. “I thought it was for Julian. We were blown away when we saw it was for Jaden. To see a program showing interest and knowing what the potential is for somebody that has a love and passion for the game — for someone truly gifted and excelling at something, it’s gratifying.”
The Hurricanes are restricted by NCAA rules from commenting on any potential recruit, but a source close to the program said Jayden stood out at a Hurricanes camp. According to the UM source, the recruiting information package was sent at the bequest of her father.
Since receiving that recruitment letter and taking an unofficial visit to Miami earlier in June, Jaden Newman has become a media star. She has appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, CNN, Fox and was featured on the Ellen Degeneres Show.
UM’s pursuit of Jaden more than four years before she starts high school has opened a debate over what age is acceptable for programs to start recruiting players. Despite that, she will be one the biggest attractions when Downey Christian plays in the Floridaprospects Christmas Girls’ Tournament in December.
Floridaprospects founder Robert Sumpter calls Jaden the best 9-year-old he has seen in 11 years of scouting.
Sumpter, however, warns against Jaden spending the next seven plus years trying to live up to the hype around her unprecedented early recruitment.
“Jaden’s love for the game will take care of itself,” Sumpter said. “I just hope that she is still allowed to be a kid and not feel that pressure of getting a Miami offer at age 9. Once you get an offer you are expected to be better than what you are. A lot of players don’t realize that you are offered because they like who you are right now.”