Though he's only 12 years old and 4?10?, Julian plays high school basketball for Downey Christian School. And he's not just part of the varsity team, he's a star. "He's the best shooter and ballhandler on our team," says his father, Jamie, who also coaches the squad. It might sound impossible to play against opponents who are several years older and much taller, but that's all Julian has ever known. Since he started playing basketball at age three, he's been competing against older players. His dad says that Julian once scored 91 points in a middle school game, even though he was only in elementary school at the time. Even against high schoolers, Julian has excelled. Last season, he averaged 12.5 points and 11.5 assists per game. Julian makes it seem like no big deal that he's schooling older kids. "Just go by them and look for an open man," he says. Julian's future goals are to play college basketball for University of Kentucky coach John Calipari and then go on to the NBA. He'll probably always be an undersized guard going against bigger competition, but that shouldn't matter. With his skills, work ethic, and love for the game, Julian will continue to stand tall.
Text: Vidur Malik; Christina M. Tapper
Photo: BILL FRAKES/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED