Calvin Newell is a confident individual.
He’ll be the first to tell you so.
Newell is also a busy man this summer. He’ll tell you he’s not just improving during the offseason — he’s perfecting.
“Basketball-wise, I’m doing three a day; I work out in the morning, afternoon and night,” Newell said. “I’m trying to perfect my craft. … Every day, you try to find out your weaknesses and make them your strengths.”
Newell, a talented guard and impressive athlete, is focused on many things this summer. The former Oklahoma Sooner has all the confidence in the world in his physical abilities. For Newell, it’s the facet of his game that goes on between the ears that he’s really honing in on.
“Right now I’m really focused on my mental state — my basketball game will take care of itself, my athleticism, everything will take care of itself,” Newell said. “I kind of really have got to get my mental state on the next level.”
Quite an addition
For an already talented backcourt, Newell is no ordinary addition.
Newell was courted by many of the usual suspects when he decided to transfer and opened up his recruitment. Head coach Donnie Jones, brought in to replace former coach Kirk Speraw in part because of his abilities as a recruiter, came out on top in the battle for Newell’s services, though.
“Calvin is a combo guard who can come in and provide us with some immediate scoring,” Jones said in December.
Marc Daniels, the radio voice of the Knights and a columnist for the UCF Athletics website, put it a bit more frankly in his March 18 column.
“Calvin Newell might be UCF’s biggest addition in the program’s history,” wrote Daniels.
The statement isn’t unfounded. Newell was a highly sought-after recruit out of high school and again during his transfer process. He appeared in 36 games for Oklahoma and in 2011, he averaged 13.0 points in 19.6 minutes for the Sooners. The truth is in the numbers; the Philadelphia native makes the most of his time on the floor, scoring quickly and efficiently.
So how did Newell end up in Orlando? As he puts it, the situation was just right.
“Basically the second time around [being recruited] is your second chance. You do what’s best for you,” Newell said. “When I came to UCF, I felt like this is where I fit in. I love the coaching staff, I like my teammates and I think I can take this program to another level.”
Similar to fellow transfer C.J. Reed and other incoming recruits, Newell says he bought into more than just the program — he bought into Jones.
“Donnie is just an all-around people person, and I like that he puts God first in everything he does,” Newell said. “At the end of the day, your coach is like a father figure; he’s there. You need someone you can trust, and you need someone who’s going to be there for you.”
Here to win
The confidence that pervades Newell flares up again when he talks about the upcoming season. He is excited to play in guard-dominated Conference USA, a league he says is underrated. He’s excited to play in Jones’ up-tempo system. He’s also excited to play for the UCF fan base, one he has high praise for and one he is confident he can win over.
“I know for a fact they’ll love me here, and I just wanted to go somewhere they wanted me and I wanted to be there,” Newell said.
The new Knight is confident about more than his individual abilities, though. Newell is confident in his new teammates and the program he has joined. When it comes to expectations for the upcoming season, he doesn’t hesitate to clearly state the goal.
“We’re going to the [NCAA] Tournament. I don’t think nothing less [will do],” Newell said. “I didn’t want to go anywhere where I couldn’t excel. I didn’t want to go anywhere where I was going to lose.
“Being a Knight … it’s like a culture. It’s like a family.”