James Madison women's basketball coach Kenny Brooks compares freshman Nikki Newman to the lead character from The Wizard of Oz.
"Like Dorothy. She wasn't in Kansas anymore," Brooks said this week, as a guest on WHSV.com Sports Xtra. "This is not the Massanutten (or) Valley District. She's going to have to get tougher."
"It's definitely a transition. It's much more fast-paced," says Newman, who will get her first taste of college basketball Sunday, when the Dukes visit American for a closed scrimmage.
Newman was the Region III and Massanutten District Player of the Year last season, as a senior at nearby Turner Ashby High School.
"She may be one of the most fundamentally sound freshmen we've had," says Brooks. "Kudos to Rob Lovell and TA and what they've done over there. They did a fantastic job with her."
Newman says her coaches have told her to "just keep working hard.
"I'm trying to figure out a lot of different positions," says the six-foot-two-inch tall Newman, who after primarily playing in the post in high school is working as both a forward and guard at JMU.
"She's going to be a big part of what we do, and she's going to see valuable minutes for us," says Brooks.
"As long as I keep doing what I'm doing, and keep working hard, hopefully I'll get some playing time and stuff," Newman says. "I definitely need to work on my shot, a lot of stuff actually, but it's coming."