In December, Prep Rally brought you the remarkable tale of Julian Newman, a pint-sized fifth grader who was lighting up the Florida prep hoops scene as the starting point guard for Downey (Fla.) Christian School. Since then Newman’s fame has continued to rise, eventually catapulting him to the front of the New York Times sports section on Sunday.
While the Times’ article on Newman mostly hit on the same high points noted here at Prep Rally in December -- that Newman is tiny (he's so short that he has to roll over his shorts just so they don't reach his shoes) and incredibly talented with the basketball -- it did unearth one rather audacious new development: Some teams on Downey’s schedule have resorted to forfeiting their games against the rising squad rather than face the indignity of losing to a team featuring a fifth grade point guard.
There’s good reason for opponents fearing a los to Downey. After years as a conference also ran, the squad has rolled to an 18-5 record, albeit in an association of schools outside Florida’s main governing body, the Florida High School Athletic Association.
Between Downey’s sudden rise and Newman’s steady improvement -- the fifth grader is now averaging more than 12 points, 10 assists and 4 steals per game -- foes have had plenty of motivation not to show up for a game against Downey.
That could change next year, if Downey completes a mulled transition into the FHSAA. Even at the FHSAA’s lowest classification, Downey would be extremely unlikely to find foes willing to give up rather than take on Newman and his teammates.
Until then, the 4-foot-5, 70-pound guard will continue to attract the gaze of all the eyeballs in the room as he cuts to the basket. So long as Downey continues to attract plenty of wins, Newman’s teammates are probably just fine with that.
“He definitely proved us wrong,” Downey junior Jonathan Ferrell told the New York Times of his teammate. “I look up to him now because he’s so much better than me.”
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