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Basketball

Newman thrilled to sign with Division I Cleveland State

| Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, 6:09 p.m.
Bishop Canevin's Caroline DeFrank drives toward the hoop against Seton-La Salle during the WPIAL Class AA semifinals Tuesday, February 25, 2014, at Chartiers Valley.
Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For the Tribune-Review
Bishop Canevin's Caroline DeFrank drives toward the hoop against Seton-La Salle during the WPIAL Class AA semifinals Tuesday, February 25, 2014, at Chartiers Valley.

When Nicolete Newman signed to play basketball at Cleveland State University, it was almost a dream of hers coming true.

Almost, because the reality is even better than she could have imagined.

“Being a college basketball player was definitely a dream of mine,” she said. “I actually never imagined I would play Division I.”

A sharpshooting guard and 3-point specialist who averaged more than 12 points per game last season, Newman helped spur the Lady Rebels to a 27-4 record that included WPIAL and PIAA Class AA championships.

The 5-foot-6 Newman showed off what she does best in a win over Fort Cherry in January when she was a perfect 10 for 10 from the field and hit six 3-pointers.

Newman has played on the varsity team the past three seasons, each of which resulted in a trip to the WPIAL title game.

During Newman's freshman season, the Lady Rebels were a perfect 30-0 and won WPIAL and PIAA titles. In the state championship game, she hit four 3-pointers and finished with 16 points.

Even for a player as accomplished as Newman, the recruiting process can be quite a grind.

“It's definitely extremely relieving,” she said of her signing. “I was really stressed out before that and throughout the whole recruitment process.

“I was just really relieved and happy with my choice.”

Gannon University also made an offer, but Cleveland State was the frontrunner all along according to Newman, who cited the coaching staff and campus as the key components of her decision.

“It was pretty easy,” she said. “That was the only school I had in my mind. I had a good feeling about them.”

Newman has a GPA over 3.5, but her scholarship is strictly athletic.

Although well-known for her shooting, especially from behind the arc, Newman expects eventually to make a transition to point guard while playing for the Vikings, who finished 14-16 overall and 9-7 in Horizon League play under the guidance of coach Kate Peterson Abiad.

“Coach said I would start out as a two-guard and they would progressively get me working into the point guard,” Newman said.

Cleveland State coaches saw Newman play some point guard for her AAU team, the Western Pennsylvania Bruins, and they liked what they saw.

Newman would move to the point to cover for starter Chassidy Omogrosso, a Blackhawk senior and Duquesne recruit.

“They saw the potential in me to be a full-time point guard,” Newman said. “It's definitely something different, but I'm up for the challenge. I'll get used to it at some point.”

The move to point guard will have to wait for Newman, who is excited to have the weight of recruiting of her shoulders.

With the Lady Rebels getting ready to defend both WPIAL and state titles, the team has enough pressure on it. Newman said signing now will help her focus on having a productive senior season.

“I really wanted to commit and know where I'm going before my senior season,” she said. “Then I don't have to worry if I played good enough (each game). I just want to enjoy it, and just enjoy everything.”

Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer.

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