For an entire season Jeff Newberry sat idly and watched his Ole Miss teammates play their 2011-12 season and wondered inside what it would be like to compete in the Southeastern Conference.
Two years later Newberry, who redshirted that season, may have the opportunity to return and play in the SEC when the recruiting process for the New Mexico Junior College point guard makes a stop in Baton Rouge for an official visit Sept. 6 for LSU's home football opener against UAB.
"I sat and watched my teammates playing and wishing I was out there," Newberry said. "I knew I needed to be smart and save that year. Since I left Ole Miss I always thought it would be crazy if I ever got back to the SEC."
Newberry has already visited West Virginia and following his trip to LSU has scheduled an official to Oklahoma State. Although the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder has not scheduled any other visits he's also received offers from Arkansas, Creighton, Murray State, Rhode Island, UTEP and Abilene Christian.
Newberry plans to sign during the NCAA's early signing period in November.
"If I had to sign today that's probably where I would end up going but that's not the case," Newberry said of West Virginia. "That was my first official visit and I have a good relationship with the staff. But I also have a good relationship with the LSU staff because Coach (Korey) McCray and I are from Atlanta and know each other a little so that kind of gives LSU an edge."
Newberry finished his prep career at Atlanta-Westlake which reached its state championship game his senior year. He opted to attend Mack Prep in Charlotte, N.C. before signing with Ole Miss, where a glut of point guards resulted in a redshirt year.
Instead of returning for a second season Newberry opted to transfer to Northeast Oklahoma Junior College in Miami, Okla. in hopes of more playing time and developing his game.
"I could have played that year and probably made an impact, but I decided to save that year and redshirt," Newberry said of Ole Miss. "As the year went on I kind of just didn't see myself in that system, so I wanted to start over and go junior college and make a better name for myself."
NEO came within a game of reaching the NJCAA national tournament last season but Newberry attained his desired affect for leaving Ole Miss. He appeared in 29 games, averaging 14.8 points, 4.3 assists and 2.9 rebounds.
Newberry shot 45 percent from the floor, 33 percent from 3-point range and made 73.2 percent of his free throws. He scored in double figures 22 times with a high of 28 points in a 96-85 win over Connors State. He twice dished out 10 assists.
"After that my recruitment picked up and that's when I took my visit to West Virginia," Newberry said. "I know a lot of people were saying that I was playing so good because the conference I was in wasn't that strong so I wanted to transfer to the toughest conference."
So the roving Newberry was off to Hobbs, N.M. where he'll play this season for New Mexico JC that's part of what's considered one of the top junior college leagues.
Given the amount of travel to pursue his basketball dreams - from Georgia to New Mexico - Newberry admits there's a big part of him that would like to return closer to his southern roots.
"I kind of do want to get back closer to Atlanta just so my family can be able to make games," Newberry said. "Also, I want to go back to the SEC. That's something that's been in the back of my mind and also make a statement. But at the same time I've got to pick the best school for me."
LSU got into the picture for Newberry within the last month when McCray called to inquire about his interest in the Tigers and subsequently extended a scholarship offer.
With Anthony Hickey moving into his junior season and Tim Quarterman an incoming freshman, LSU's selling Newberry on the prospect of him being able to come in and further solidify the Tigers backcourt.
"When Coach McCray contacted me we had a real good conversation," Newberry said. "I just feel real comfortable about their staff. I feel LSU's a place I could possibly come in and make an immediate impact with me having two years left. We could have a good team in the SEC with the players that they have coming back."
Newberry also had praise for LSU Head Coach Johnny Jones and the role he's played in his recruitment.
"He's a real good guy and we try and talk twice a week," Newberry said. "He said even if I don't pick LSU he's still giving me some insight on my game and lets me know I'm a great kid and things I can work on. He's a real good guy.
"They've got a lot of good players," Newberry said. "With me they want a guard who can play the point and be able to create for everybody. I can do whatever a team needs from scoring to getting everybody involved. It's whatever's needed that game."