Bleacher Bits: You're as old as you play
At least one of the various reports online refer to him as "the next biggest thing in Florida high school basketball," but that moniker is misleading, because at 4-foot-5 and 11 years of age, Julian Newman is neither "big" nor in high school.
Yet due to a few circumstances working in his favor, the pint-sized playmaker is the starting point guard for Downey Christian School in Orlando.
But wait a second. Even though fifth grade may have been the three hardest years of my life, even I know high school begins after eighth grade.
Circumstance 1: Downey Christian is a preschool through 12th-grade institution. So technically, Newman is not playing basketball at a school he does not attend.
Circumstance 2: The Downey Christian coach shares the same surname. Sure, the obvious jokes about a "coach's kid" may apply, but coach Jamie Newman only moved his son up after Julian scored 91 points in three quarters against middle-school competition.
"He has a tremendous skill level," the elder Newman told MaxPreps. "He has moves that even NBA players don't have. He does stuff that hasn't been done with the ball."
OK, so he's the embodiment of a Dick Vitale "diaper dandy" — but how does he get to play at the high school level?
Circumstance 3: According to the Huffington Post, Downey Christian is a small independent school that operates outside the jurisdiction of the Florida High School Athletics Association.
But how are the kid's skills? According to MaxPreps, Julian is averaging 12.7 points, 11 assists, 4.3 steals and 2.3 rebounds per game for the 2-3 Patriots.
At least one opposing coach feels Julian's playing time is warranted, as Crooms Academy coach Don Smith said, "Julian is one of their better players. He's not playing just because he is Jamie's son."
Having been a marginal basketball player at best, I can tell you that no matter how bad I looked on the court, I still would have been ticked off if I was replaced by a fifth-grader. I also have no doubt that most fifth-graders would have had little trouble schooling me in a game of 1-on-1.
What will they do about a Florida high school scoring record if Julian keeps playing for the next seven years and ups his scoring average?
And more importantly, at what age does a bottle of Gatorade replace the juice box?
CONTACT Craig Purcell at 824-1036 or email@example.com.