Ny’emah Middleton joins Rowan’s squad in return to basketball

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Ny'emah Middleton drives to the basket. Middleton is one of the new additions this season to the Profs' lineup. Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. - Multimedia Editor / Lee Kotzen

After playing basketball her whole life, trying to play at the Division I level and taking a break from the sport, Ny’emah Middleton has landed in Glassboro, New Jersey for a fresh start in her basketball career.

“I started playing basketball when I was nine, so I’ve been playing basketball my whole life,” Middleton said. “Everything just came naturally to me, I did AAU [Amateur Athletic Union]. I was on a very good AAU team and I started. And then my second AAU team was the best AAU team I’ve ever been on, I was actually with Kristina [Johnson]… I went through high school and I got my 1,000 points… basketball has kept me going.”

Following that, Middleton had her sights set on Rowan, but there was another important aspect for her in regards to her college experience which led her to play on the Division I basketball team.

“When I graduated, Rowan was my number one choice, but then I always wanted the HBCU experience so I went to attend Coppin State in Baltimore, Maryland,” Middleton said. “Things didn’t go well, they ended up getting a whole new coaching staff right before I came, so they weren’t accepting walk-ons even after I tried out.” 

Middleton stayed at Coppin State unhappy. She said that she fell into a funk until she realized, “it’s time for me to get back on my feet.” 

She reached out to Rowan Head Coach Demetrius Poles, whom she had a connection to, which eventually landed her with the Profs. 

“She’s somebody I’ve known for a while,” said Coach Poles. “Somebody who can help the team.” 

The praise is mutual, as Middleton has been excited to play under coach Poles. 

“Now I’m here, fresh start and I still have all four years [of eligibility],” Middleton said. “I already knew coming here with Coach Poles being the coach was going to be amazing, I love him as a coach, I love him as a person. He doesn’t hold back on things he wants to say. He’s always open, he’s honest and I just love the way he coaches.” 

Coach Poles explained what Middleton brings to the table and how she is a great addition to the team. 

“Her defense is probably one of the best in the league,” Coach Poles said. “She brings an intensity, she brings force and she can shoot the three, so she’s somebody we definitely need.” 

With all that happening before joining Rowan’s squad this season, Middleton had stepped away from the game. 

“I stepped away because I thought I could go somewhere else and play, but after that I just shut down and then school wasn’t going well for me, so I shut down with that,” Middleton said. “And then I just took another year to myself before I got everything back together.” 

Since joining the team and playing basketball again, Middleton has emerged as a key player on the Profs’ roster, playing in seven of eight games and starting in the last two. Coach Poles explained what went into the decision to put her in the starting lineup.

“The style we want to play is quick, fast and pressure the ball, and that’s what she is. She’s exactly what we want to do,” Coach Poles said. “And the whole team agrees, she’s a star and she can play some defense. It was obvious that we have to start her, she gets us going.” 

Middleton leads the team with 15 steals so far on the season. She is in the top ten for steals in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) as well, averaging 2.1 steals per game. 

While her defense is her biggest contributing factor, she has seemed to find her stride on offense. 

“The points come, the shots come, everything comes, but that’s when we’re working as a team,” Middleton said. 

She has played more minutes in each game as the season has gone along, going from one minute played against Amherst in the first game to 25 minutes played recently against William Paterson University. 

As of that William Paterson game, Middleton is averaging 6.6 points per game, two rebounds, is shooting 32.1% from the field and 25.0% from the perimeter. 

She has three double-digit scoring games on the season and has put up double figures two games in a row. Her early career high was 15 against Juniata College, while she grabbed a career-high seven rebounds against William Paterson. 

Middleton is very happy that she is playing for the Profs and is getting her education at Rowan University. She will look to play consistently throughout her returning season. 

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