Making the Case for Jakai Newton to Start in 2024-2025

Jakai Newton, Indiana Men's Basketball
Jakai Newton, Indiana Men's Basketball / Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY

Last season, Indiana was lucky enough to have 2 incoming freshman who were not only key contributors all season long but started a bulk of the team's 33 games. Mackenzie Mgbako and Gabe Cupps certainly had their rough patches here and there in 2023-2024, but at the end of the day the 2 rookies were revelations for a roster that was short on silver linings.

Those guys aside, the 3rd member of Mike Woodson's 2023-2024 freshman class was also set for a legitimate role last season were it not for a lingering knee ailment which forced him to witness the growth of his fellow freshman from the sidelines.

Jakai Newton, who joined Mgbako and Cupps as national top 100 recruits within the class of 2023, may have been tethered to the bench during his first collegiate campaign, but great things tend to come to those who wait. The explosive 6'3" combo guard out of Georgia undoubtedly had the physical tools to make a difference for Mike Woodson's squandering squad last year, but the humbling experience he was forced to endure should equip him with a wealth of knowledge looking ahead to next year.

With those things in mind, could the unsung Newton snag a spot in the Hoosiers' starting lineup looking ahead to next season?

With such a loaded depth chart (with 2 spots yet to be filled), the likelihood of that possibility coming to fruition is a bit on the faint side. In the backcourt, he will have an abundance of (friendly) competition for minutes. Newton will have his work cut out in earning minutes over the likes of Myles Rice, Trey Galloway, Kanaan Carlyle, Gabe Cupps, and Anthony Leal. Each of those guys bring their own set of skills to the table, and each are more than worthy of non-garbage floor time.

Regardless, Newton's personality gives off the impression of an individual who is more than willing to earn his keep. He is well-known for his strong work ethic and driven spirit, which should both be immensely amplified as a result of his unquestionable desire to get back on the court and prove what he can do. We have received a peak behind the curtain of his offseason grind, and if you have not already seen that private snippet then you should do yourself a favor and check it out immediately.

He also holsters the type of heart and humility off the floor which bode well for a basketball player. His strong family values give him an automated, ongoing source of inspiration, and he has exuded the type of compassionate spirit which showcase the sort of selflessness which coaches seek from their soldiers.

There is a lot of time between now and the start of the 2024-2025 NCAA season, but we have a funny feeling that as time continues to move forward our guys Jakai Newton will continue to build his case as a fan favorite on this team. And if he can continue to establish his positive reputation amongst the fanbase, the next step would be to secure the trust of his coaching staff in order to subtly steal a starting spot in Indiana basketball's lineup next year.