Ivy Newcomb’s name may not be prominent on college basketball recruiting lists, but several people Downeast think it should be.
Shead of Eastport’s 6-foot senior center would like to play college ball, and she’s looking for a place to call home the next four years.
Helping her in that quest are three people who know her well: Shead Athletic Director Kendrick Mitchell, head coach Debbie Cormier, and former coach Bobby Davis.
Mitchell believes Newcomb’s credentials would impress any coach.
She led her young 3-3 team into a Tuesday contest at East Grand of Danforth averaging 24.8 points per game.
A four-year starter, Newcomb surpassed 1,000 points as a junior. Named to three Downeast Athletic Conference All-Star teams, she was the Downeast Coastal Press Player of the Year as a freshman and a first- and second-team Class D selection by the Maine Sunday Telegram.
She fine-tuned her game with two years of AAU Junior Olympic basketball.
Mitchell follows her career as the AD, boys basketball coach, and as an official.
“For being big, she can run the floor better than most,” he said. “She does just about everything for Shead. She takes the ball on the press, she goes inside and sets it up, she can go with either hand, and she has a tremendous attitude. She’s a one-girl show.”
Although Newcomb is unsure of her career path, she wants to continue her education and play basketball, so she has applied to six colleges.
Shead’s center said her favorite shot is off the rebound.
Cormier assisted Davis for two years before becoming head coach and has seen her mature.
Newcomb has assumed a lot of responsibility for the overall play, Cormier said, even helping the young backcourt when needed.
“Last year, I saw her not do the things she can do,” Cormier said. “She was holding back because she wasn’t sure of what she should or shouldn’t do. This year she has the freedom to do what she wants with the ball.”
Practice presents a slight problem for Newcomb because there is no player larger than she. AAU helped, Cormier said, because it taught her what it is like to play against people of her height. “She takes a lot of time with her shots now, and she’s not in foul trouble as she was the last two years. In fact, it’s not even a problem.”
Mobility is one of her strong suits. “She can run the floor and handle the ball,” Cormier said. “She can play college ball. What a college coach will do is improve her defense. She has the tools, and she can learn to use them with other college-level players of her size. Then you’ll see her shine.”
Newcomb is leading a team with a new backcourt as well as a new coach. But the transition was not difficult.
“We all felt comfortable,” Newcomb said of Cormier becoming head coach. “We are doing some things differently, but we were used to her. The routine was pretty much the same, and we have her for a math teacher.”
What has changed, Newcomb said, is the team runs more. “We’re doing a lot more fast breaking and work more on conditioning.”
Davis points to one specific change Newcomb has made in her career.
“What sticks out in my mind is the improvement she has made with her opposite hand,” he said. “As a freshman, she was mostly a righthanded player. She worked hard on her lefthand game and now over half her layups are scored with her left hand. She feels very comfortable with the opposite hand.”
Rebounding comes naturally to her.
“She seems to have a sense of where the ball is coming off the rim on a shot,” Davis said. “She is right there when it’s coming off. Every player doesn’t have that ability. She recognizes how the ball bounces off the rim, and her lateral movement in the bucket gets her in there for the rebounds.”
If college ball is a part of Newcomb’s future, she will only get better, her coaches contend. Cormier believes she’ll develop into a better defender, and Davis thinks a college coach will get put her onto a weight program that will improve her jumping ability.
In the meantime, Newcomb is helping solidify a young team for her new coach. “I’m ecstatic,” Cormier said of Shead’s .500 start.
“I’ve seen improvement already. We’ve been growing game by game. The only thing beating us so far is being so young and inexperienced. But it is all part of the maturing process. We’re getting older by the hour.”