Skip to content

Fergus baller Brock Newton taking his talents to NCAA

Six-foot-seven forward played for Centre Wellington District High School

Brock Newton of Fergus turned 19 last week, three days before hopping on a plane for a nine-hour trek to Lewisburg, Pa., where he was to start the next leg of his basketball journey.

“I've got to get down there for training camp so that's going to be sweet,” Newton said.

Last month Newton signed a letter of intent to become one of four recruits for the Bucknell University Bison, an NCAA Division One school that’s usually at or near the top of the Patriot League conference.

The campus is on the shores of the West Branch Susquehanna River while Lewisburg is pretty much smack dab in the middle of Pennsylvania and requires Newton’s flight to make a few stops along the way. It would’ve been quicker to drive from Fergus to Bucknell, approximately 530 kilometres.

“There's like four stops,” he said.

Training camp was to start Monday for Newton who was born in Kitchener, but grew up in Fergus. However, it won’t be the first basketball action for Newton since the COVID- 19 pandemic forced the shutdown of high school sports in Ontario 15 months ago. He joined the Toronto Basketball Academy earlier this year for about three months of tournament play in Florida.

“They texted me a day before they were leaving and they were like, 'Hey, we need some high-level guys to come with us. Do you want to come.' There was no basketball happening in Canada so I thought it would be a good opportunity and it worked out in the end so that was good,” he said.

That time with TBA helped the Bison make up their minds about Newton.

“I've been talking to Bucknell for about a year now so they knew about me before, but it helped to get more film to them and have them have more opportunities to see me play,” he said.

Newton had played three seasons in the local District 10 high school basketball league, one in junior and two in senior, with the Centre Wellington District High School Falcons of Fergus.

“Centre Wellington was really good for me,” Newton said. “It wasn't really a basketball power. Coming from Fergus it was more about hockey, but being able to develop there I think really helped me. Being there and playing as just a big point guard, developing my ball-handling skills, isn't something a lot of guys my height get to do.

“I think with my height and skill set Centre Wellington really helped me to push through adversity with teams kind of keying on me and still trying to have to get the job done as well as finding open teammates. I think that also prepared my mindset for the college level – being able to make right reads no matter what the defence is doing.”

The Falcons might not have been thought of as a perennial contender for the senior boys’ basketball championship, but they did win back-to-back D10 titles in 2017 and ’18, the second one coming in Newton’s first season of senior play with the Falcons.

“I only played one year of junior. In Grade 10 I won CWOSSA with my brother (Cole), I played up.”

That Falcons started that season without Cole Newton as the eventual two-time D10 senior MVP was sidelined with a broken arm. Despite that, Centre Wellington put together a D10 season that saw them lose only a single game, the game Cole returned to the lineup from the injury.

That was Cole’s final season with the Falcons as he left to play in the elite Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association with London’s Southwest Academy. Brock, who was selected to play in the D10 all-star game all three years he was at Centre Wellington, followed a year later.

Cole had graduated by then and Brock had had a change of position, moving to forward. Brock finished the 2019-20 OSBA season as Southwest’s leading scorer with an average of 19.5 points per game and he also grabbed 6.5 rebounds per game. His efforts in the classroom were also recognized as he was named a member of the academic all-OSBA team.

Basketball is a Newton thing. Older brother Cole has a season of experience in Canadian university basketball with the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, father Jim
Newton played a couple of seasons with the Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks of Waterloo in the early 1990s, wrapping up his time there just as Brock’s uncle Steve Newton was beginning five seasons with the University of Winnipeg Wesmen.

Brock also joined the Northern Kings of Toronto for a planned summer season of tournament action in the Under Armour Association, but COVID-19 put an end to game play.

“It was basically just training with some Northern Kings during the summer and Southwest until I left with Toronto Basketball Academy,” Brock said of his basketball
participation during the pandemic. “It sucked, but I have access to gym time so I was still able to scrimmage and stuff. In my house, I have a full weight room so I was still able to do that, but the no games definitely sucked. It's harder to stay focused when there's no games in sight.”

Now 6-foot-7, Brock’s to be a forward at Bucknell.

“I like playing on the wing, outside,” he said.

That means he’ll have to take some three-point shots, but his background as a guard means that shouldn’t be a problem.

“It's good,” he said of his three-point shot. “It's been a little bit inconsistent, but I can shoot it. I can shoot from range.”

Brock studies economics at Bucknell and said time management will be nothing new to him.

“I'm kind of used to having a schedule, setting my workouts when I have stuff to do. I've had a job for the past summer so I'm kind of used to having a set schedule.”

He’s also had one of his two COVID-19 vaccine shots and plans to get his second soon after arrival in Lewisburg.

“It's a little bit different in the States. You can just walk into a pharmacy and just get it right away,” he said.

He’s also not the lone Canadian among Bucknell’s four newcomers as the Bison also recruited guard Josh Bascoe of Milton. Josh is the son of former Guelph Gryphon Shane Bascoe.

“I've played against him a couple of times,” Brock said.

That’ll give Brock a familiar face to see at Bucknell’s spring camp, although he wasn’t at all concerned about not knowing anyone there.

“I'm a pretty outgoing guy so I don't think it's that hard for me,” he said. “For some guys it can be challenging, but I don't really find any problem going to a new place and talking with new guys. My first day with Toronto I was already making friends there. I don't think it'll be a problem in that aspect.”

Brock and Bascoe will be the first Canadians on the Bison since the graduation of current Guelph Nighthawks guard Kimbal Mackenzie of Oakville completed his four seasons there in the 2018-19 season.

They’ll be looking to return Bucknell to Patriot League glory as the Bison were 5-7 in conference play and 9-13 overall in the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season.

The Bison finished first in Patriot League regular-season standings eight times in nine seasons from 2011 to 2019 and reached at least the semifinals of the Patriot League championship tournament 24 times in the conference’s 31 years of existence, last winning it in 2018.

That win put the Bison in the NCAA tournament just as it had in 2017, 2013, 2011, 2006 and 2005. Bucknell advanced past the first round of the tournament in both 2005 and 2006 and was also in the NCAA tournament in 1989 and 1987 as the East Coast Conference champions.

“They're giving me the opportunity so I'm just trying to make the most out of it and try to contribute as much as I can where I can,” Brock said. “We have gym access all the time so I'm going to be in the gym all the time working, trying to get better and make an impact on the team's success.”