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    Sunday, May 19, 2024

    Newton cements UConn legendary status with Husky of Honor induction

    UConn’s Tristen Newton, left, earned Final Four Most Outstanding Player honors Monday after the Huskies won their second straight national championship, then headed to greet his parents Erika and Montreal. (Gavin Keefe/The Day)
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    UConn head coach Dan Hurley, left, celebrates with UConn guard Tristen Newton after the Huskies’ win against Purdue in the NCAA tournament national championship game Monday night in Glendale, Ariz. (David J. Phillip/AP Photo)
    UConn guard Tristen Newton, middle, celebrates after scoring against Purdue during the second half of Monday night’s national championship game in Glendale, Ariz. (David J. Phillip/AP Photo

    When Tristen Newton decided to transfer to UConn almost exactly two years ago, his commitment made small waves. Nothing like the tsunami that he created during his two-year career in Storrs.

    Newton left behind an impressive wake of accomplishments.

    He went from a relatively unknown player coming out of Burges High School in El Paso, Texas, to a first team All-American and two-time national champion point guard at UConn. He helped lead the Huskies to Big East regular-season and tournament titles this season as well as back-to-back national championships for the first time in program history, the eighth team to accomplish that feat in NCAA tournament history.

    During UConn’s welcome home rally Tuesday night, Newton was inducted into the Huskies of Honor, which recognizes the top players in men’s and women’s basketball history. A banner with his No. 2 now hangs on the Gampel Pavilion wall.

    “I think the most fitting thing and one of the greatest honors for one of the greatest UConn Huskies to ever put the uniform on, Mr. Tristen Newton, is up,” coach Dan Hurley said just before the banner unveiling. “Husky of Honor up top here. Let’s hear it for T New. Immortal, baby. Immortal, baby.”

    A laid back and talented all-around point guard, Newton consistently delivered on the big stage.

    Newton capped his outstanding career by leading his team in scoring in a 75-60 national championship win over Purdue on Monday in Glendale, Arizona. He finished with 20 points, a team-high seven assists and added five rebounds. He didn’t commit a turnover while playing all but 36 seconds, earning the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player award.

    He also had a standout performance in last year’s national championship win over San Diego State in Houston, chipping in a team-best 19 points, team-high tying 10 rebounds and four assists while making the Final Four all-tournament team.

    During Monday’s postgame celebration at State Farm Stadium, Newton stepped off the raised court to share the special moment with his family, including parents Erika and Montreal, and friends in the front row, just as he did in Houston last year.

    Newton capped off a terrific career by finishing first on the team in scoring (15.1 points) and assists (a career-high 6.2), second in rebounds (a career-high 6.6) while starting all 40 games for the 37-3 Huskies. His 248 assists are the second most in a season in program history, trailing only Taliek Brown (253, 2003-04). He holds the UConn career record for triple-doubles with four.

    Quite the stellar resume for a player who announced his plans to transfer to UConn on April 13, 2022.

    “I don’t know what happens from here with him, I think he’s got a great chance to play in the NBA for a while,” Hurley said. “But guards having worn the uniform with what he’s done in terms of winning and accolades, it’s tough to beat his two years of accomplishments.”

    Newton talked about what UConn meant to him the day before the national championship game.

    “UConn has obviously changed my life,” Newton said. “The fans, the coaches, my teammates, they’ve all changed my life for the better. Connecticut is a great state and they’re all about UConn basketball. … When I was getting recruited, there was talk about winning a national championship and that’s something we’ve been wanting to do the past few years. And, obviously, we got it done last year, but we’re trying to go back to back.”

    Mission accomplished for Newton and UConn.

    UConn will celebrate its national championship with a victory parade in Hartford on Saturday, starting at 11 a.m.

    g.keefe@theday.com

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