Welcome to A10 Talk’s Top Pre-Season Top 25 Player Countdown for the 2016-17 season. Each day, we’ll be publishing a new article counting down our best 25 players for the coming season. Today, we feature #24 Shavar Newkirk of Saint Joseph’s.
What’s He’s Done
Shavar Newkirk had an impressive sophomore season with the Hawks as he saw some major improvements from his freshman year. Newkirk went from 3.3 PPG up to 8.0 despite playing just 3.5 more minutes per contest. In addition, we saw his field goal, three point, and free throw percentages all go up by more than 10%. Newkirk averaged 2.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game last season. He did all of this, mind you, while sharing a large portion of his minutes with freshman point guard LaMarr Kimble. Newkirk played 58.7% of available minutes last season while Kimble played 45.0%. They both almost exclusively played the 1.
Newkirk will likely get the nod over Kimble as the starter this season, and he’s going to have to take over this Hawks team if they want to make it back to the Big Dance. Newkirk is the second highest returning scorer for the Hawks (8.0 PPG) behind James Demery (8.1 PPG). Though this should be a rebuilding year for Phil Martelli’s squad, Newkirk’s shown the potential to be a breakout player. As a sophomore, he had 13 double-digit scoring performances including a career-high 19 point night against St. Bonaventure. Newkirk also posted 10 points and grabbed 5 boards in the Hawks’ second round NCAA Tournament loss to Oregon.
What He’ll Do
Newkirk will be the leader of this Saint Joseph’s backcourt next season, and if the Hawks decide to experiment with either Kimble or Newkirk at the 2, this could mean even more playing time for both players. Newkirk isn’t used to playing a significant role for this team, but he’s very effective in the time that he is on the court. He’s great at driving to the rack and either finishing or dishing it out to an open shooter. The fact that he can score, pass, and rebound makes him a valuable threat for Saint Joseph’s offense.
Without go-to scoring options DeAndre’ Bembry and Isaiah Miles, I’d expect Shavar Newkirk’s points per game to go up significantly this season. He, along with returner James Demery, will be the two best returning scorers on the floor, and if they don’t find a way to pick up the slack that left this past offseason, the Hawks won’t be successful in a difficult league.
If Newkirk could improve his jumpshot, he could become a very dangerous player this next season. He shot just 30.3% from long range during the 2015-16 season, though it was a step up from his 18.8% mark during his freshman year. The Hawks had the 10th best three pointing shooting team in the conference last season, and without sharpshooter Isaiah Miles, that’s likely not going to get much better. Either players like Shavar Newkirk and James Demery are going to have to improve their consistencies from long range, or the Hawks are going to have to look to generate scoring inside the three point line.
Previously: #25 DeJon Jarreau