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Newman looks up to varsity players

NATCHEZ — Tyran Newman wanted to improve his game, so the ninth-grader took to some older players over the summer.

Despite the Natchez High School ninth graders having a separate squad from the rest of high schoolers, Newman practiced with the varsity team during summer workouts.

Newman said he wasn’t asked to work out with the high schoolers, but decided for himself that it would help his game.

“I did it on my own,” Newman said. “When you play with older people, it gets you better. I learned to take it easy on the court and stay focused.”

Natchez High School’s Tyran Newman looks to pass the ball against Cathedral’s Jardarius Anderson in a recent ninth grade basketball game at Natchez High School. (Ben Hillyer \ The Natchez Democrat)

Newman said he was a little intimidated working with the high schoolers at first, but the trepidation didn’t last long.

“It went away after a period of time,” Newman said. “They helped me out a lot. It’s interesting watching them. They’re good — they know how to play.”

NHS ninth-grade boys coach Roderick Holmes said he relies a lot on Newman, especially since Newman has shown himself to be trustworthy as a leader.

“He just has a pretty good feel for the team,” Holmes said. “I look at him as a leader. When football was over, he was one of my go-to guys (when practice began). If I was going to be late, I could depend on him to hold down the fort until I got there.”

Holmes said Newman has averaged approximately eight shots per game in the early part of the season. He alternates Newman between point and shooting guard but primarily keeps him at shooting guard.

“He’s a shooter,” Holmes said. “He likes to shoot, and he can handle the ball well and take care of it. He has a good basketball IQ, works hard and plays good defense.”

Newman said his game plan every time he sets foot on the court is simple.

“I like to shoot and drive,” Newman said. “That’s my main focus.”

Even though he enjoys shooting the ball, Newman said there isn’t any kind of special thrill in taking a shot.

“There’s not really any kind of emotion, because I do it so much,” Newman said.

While he doesn’t mind being a team leader, Newman admitted that the task isn’t stress-free.

“It’s hard to be a go-to guy, because there’s a lot of pressure,” Newman said. “I just have to take it slow and don’t rush things.”

But hours of practice has helped Newman maintain his confidence despite having the spotlight on him at times.

“I’m just confident in my shot,” Newman said. “I practice every morning in first period basketball, and I practice a few times a week at home.”

That repetition is important, especially since his team is relying on him to score, Newman said.

“You have to learn the technique of shooting,” he said. “You can’t just go out and play and not know what you’re doing.”

Though he still has a few years left to improve his game, Newman has already set some lofty basketball goals for himself.

“I want to make All-Metro and go to a good college,” Newman said. “I’d like to go to Mississippi State. I’m a Bulldogs fan.”

Newman is the son of Shalita Henderson and Walter Newman.