Senior Graham Newton is new to the Lincoln High boys basketball program this season, but it looks like the 6-foot-5 forward and his 6-6 senior post teammate Boomer Jock have been playing together for years when they’re on the court.
That may be because they have been. They’ve been past teammates in the Lincoln Supreme program, including last summer when they were on the 17U squad.
“We look for each other on the court and we’ve developed that chemistry together,” said Newton, a transfer from Crete who is averaging 11.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game for the Class A No. 9 Links (8-3).
“We look for each other in the high-low (post game) and kicking out for perimeter shots after we feed it inside,” Newton added. “You have to give credit to our guards. They get the ball to us in a position where we can pass to each other and get good shots up.”
It’s a dynamic that Lincoln High coach Dan Noble jokes about in discussing his inside duo.
“A post player always thinks they need the ball more, and I think that’s why these guys always look for each other a little more,” Noble said, laughing. “They’ve got good chemistry together.”
Newton has not only scored inside, he’s also shooting 47 percent from beyond the three-point arc (7-of-15), drawing a larger defender outside with him. That’s opened things up inside for the explosive Jock, who averages 9.4 points per game to go with a team-high seven rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots per outing.
Jock has a much more expanded role this season than a year ago when he saw minimal varsity playing time coming off the bench.
“My job is to get rebounds, block shots and score inside,” Jock said. “Last year, the inside game wasn’t a big priority, but that’s changed this year. I put in a lot of hard work in the summer, got in the weight room and spent a lot of time with Coach Noble in the gym trying to get better.”
Noble said Jock’s length and natural shot-blocking ability “changes things inside for us defensively.” Newton’s versatility both inside and outside causes defensive matchup problems for the other team.
“We’ve got viable options inside that we haven’t had for a while,” Noble said. “We have some guards we can post up and some interchangeable parts where we can move some of our bigs outside to stretch the defense.”
Jock and Newton, however, have not changed Lincoln High’s style of play, which is to get the Links’ stable of guards running in the open floor and playing an uptempo game.
Keyshawn Jenkins, a 6-1 senior, leads the perimeter threats, averaging a team-high 15.2 points per game despite a knee injury that forced him to miss Lincoln High’s quarterfinal victory over Lincoln Southwest in the Heartland Athletic Conference tournament last week.
The Links can also turn to 6-1 senior Jaden Horton (9.9 points per game), 6-3 junior Jaxson Barber (7.9 ppg), 5-11 senior Yashua Bradley (7.3 ppg) and 6-2 senior Zay Parks (6.7 ppg) for instant offense from either the outside or going to the basket in transition.
“You have to be able to run the floor and be in condition to play with those guys,” said Jock, who runs track in the spring.
The Links face a challenging schedule moving forward, starting this weekend with a road game at Class B No. 1 Lincoln Pius X on Friday and a home contest against Class A No. 7 Omaha Central on Saturday.
“If we work hard and we’re playing our best ball at the end of the season, we have the potential to do something,” Newton said. “Right now we’re still trying to get used to playing with each other and how to best utilize the skills we have.”