Sept. 2, 2010
Milt Newton (men’s basketball, 1985, 87-89)
Was a starter on the 1988 National Championship team under Larry Brown. Newton played forward for the Jayhawks, owning career averages of 9.1 points and 3.4 rebounds. He played in 128 games at KU, starting 60. Newton saw his best action during his senior year when he averaged 17.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, while shooting 47 percent from the field and 45 percent from the three-point line. He was selected to the 1988 NCAA Final Four All-Tournament Team, Second Team All-Big 8 in 1989, Kansas MVP in 1989 and co-caption of the Virgin Islands 1987 Pan-American Games Team. Newton is currently working as the Vice President of Player Personnel for the Washington Wizards. He resides in Bowie, Md., with his wife, Shalaun, their daughter Shaniya (7) and son Miles (3).
You graduated from KU in 1989, what have you been doing since then?
“I left KU and I played at little bit over in Europe, Australia, and played a short time in Belgium. I then decided to give up the game and went and got my master’s degree at Kansas. I then went to work first with the Denver Nuggets, for about a year and a half. I was in community relations and helped out with basketball operations. I left the Nuggets and went to work for USA Basketball in Colorado Springs, Colo. I was the Assistant Director for the men’s program for five years. I was also involved with the Olympics in Atlanta while I was part of the organization. I then left there and went to work with the Philadelphia 76ers as a scout for my old college coach Larry Brown. After I left the 76ers, I worked at the NBA league office as the Director of Player Personnel and helped to create the NBA Developmental League. I was there from the inception of the league through the first three years. After leaving NBA league office, I have been working for the Washington Wizards for the last seven seasons, where I am the Vice President of Players Personnel. “
What exactly do you do in your job with the Wizards?
“My primary job is being in charge of our scouting department, draft process and the players that we select in the draft. However, on a day-to-day basis I help with managing our players, the salary cap and anything day-to-day to help improve our team. I am a conduit between the coaching staff and the players. Overall, I am in charge of our personnel department and making sure we are prepared when the draft comes along.”
How does it feel to be the key contributor to the creation of the NBA Developmental League?
“It feels great! I got a call when I was with the 76ers saying that they were starting this new minor league system for the NBA. When I went for my interview and they told me what all it entailed I was excited because it was an opportunity to start something new and build something from scratch. Seeing the players go from the developmental league to the NBA gives me a lot of satisfaction.”
When you were being recruited out of high school what factors led you to choosing Kansas?
“John Calipari, who worked at Kansas at the time, had seen me at Five Star Basketball Camp and we had many conversations along the way. Being from Washington, D.C., I wanted to venture out and be a little bit on my own. I took a visit to Kansas and had a great time. Danny Manning had already decided that he was going to go to KU. On my official visit I really hit it off with the guys who were on the team at the time. Coach Brown also had a lot to do with it because my aspiration was to play in the NBA and I knew that he had coached in the NBA had a successful reputation for developing players. I also just had fun on my visit, loved the campus and I thought the fans were very friendly and supportive. I felt even before committing that I was a part of the Lawrence community.”
How did you first get involved with playing basketball?
“I was born in the Virgin Islands and I first started playing basketball when I was five years old. I remember watching games and players on Sundays on CBS like Dr. J. I remember when I was kid Artis Gilmore and Dr. J came to the Virgin Islands and I actually got a chance to meet Dr. J. In the Virgin Islands you have players like Tim Duncan and Raja Bell and basketball is actually really big in the Virgin Islands. I remember having a basketball in my hand at an early age and going out playing in the hot sun. I was more of an introvert, so it wasn’t a problem for me to go on a basketball court and spend hours there playing. The more I played the more I began to like basketball.”
Growing up, did you ever think basketball would be a part of your life this long?
“When I was kid I thought that I wanted to be a forest ranger and be out in nature. However, as I got older I knew that I wanted to play basketball. When I went to Kansas and saw how many great players came out of Kansas and the longer I stayed in college I decided I wanted to be in sports. I remember when I finished graduate school talking to my peers about what we wanted to do when we graduated. I remember telling them that I wanted to be a General Manager for a NBA team.”
Do you still keep in contact with some of your former teammates/coaches?
“Yes, I talk to Coach Brown, especially during the season, once or twice a week. I also talk to Coach Williams quite frequently. For the guys that were on the championship team we have this running email thread. A lot of it has to do with just playful stuff. I might send an email out to Archie (Marshall) and Danny, and then Mark Randall and Scotter Berry will chime in. The next thing you know it will go from something meaningful to `remember when you did this when we played’.”
There is a collage in Allen Fieldhouse that highlights the three National Championships, have you seen the new facilities?
“I have not, but a lot of people have told me about all the new things that we have there. The last time I was in Allen Fieldhouse was two years ago. I haven’t gotten a chance to see any of the new stuff yet, but I was told that it was pretty impressive. To me, Kansas is the top athletic department in the country and they do everything first class.”
You met your wife at KU. Could you tell us about your family?
“My wife, Shalaun, actually ran track at Kansas. The funny thing about that is when I met her at Kansas, I was a junior and she was a freshman and we were just friends. However, when I went back to graduate school, she had graduated but still lived in Lawrence. She was working at the time and we started dating and now we have been married for 16 years. We have two children. My daughter is seven and my son is three. I see a lot of my wife and I in our kids. My daughter is getting ready to be a brown belt in karate, competitively swims and dances. My son is very drawn to basketball and he likes soccer as well.”
What was the highlight of your KU career?
“There are two things that are the highlight of my career. The first is winning a National Championship. The second highlight is getting my undergraduate degree because it was something that I worked really hard to obtain.”
What was your reaction to Coach Self and his team bringing home another championship in 2008?
“I was happy and I was really happy for all of the Jayhawk fans. The fans at Kansas are the best. I love the University and was happy for the University to get another championship. I was happy for Danny (Manning) to get a championship as a player and a coach. Anytime Kansas does well in sports or academics I’m really proud. I was groomed, in a sense, in Kansas and I was really proud for the team.”