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Yep, a fifth-grader is starting for a Florida high school varsity basketball team (video)

Dec 19, 2012, 6:46 PM EDT


Meet Julian Newman: at 4-foot-5 and (I’m assuming) 10 years old, he’s practically half the size and age of some of the players he’s competing against for the Downey Christian (Orlando) High School varsity basketball team. Downey is a small independent school that is not governed by the Florida High School Athletic Association, as most larger schools are. Thus, hobbits in varsity basketball.

But this is no joke. Aside from some very comical defensive matchups, Julian actually looks like he belongs on the floor with the older players. Nicknamed “Handles”, the kid runs the point with aplomb, has a nice outside shot and is a terrific passer. I watched the video below and can’t understand why the opposing team doesn’t score every time on out-of-bounds plays — seeing that Downey seems to play man-to-man on those. Are you smarter than a fifth-grader, opposing coaches?

Julian is coached by his father, Jamie Newman, at the Orlando school. And if you’re wondering about the legality of all this, apparently it’s kosher. A person gets four years of eligibility in high school basketball in Florida, and if you want to use them all up by the time you’re in the eighth grade, you can do that. You just can’t repeat a grade. (Update: apparently you can get more than four years, if you start young like Julian).

More video here.

“Oh yeah, they announced his name and the whole deal,” said Crooms Academy head coach Don Smith, an opponent of Downey Christian’s last week. “Downey Christian is a real small private school and they put a little bit of anybody out there. He’s a little bitty thing, but he’s very talented.”

Jamie Newman, who says Julian has played up against older competition since he was three years old, doesn’t hold back when talking about his son.

“He has a tremendous skill level,” Jamie said. “He has moves that even NBA players don’t have. He does stuff that hasn’t been done before.”

Judge for yourself.

If it were me, I’d afraid of little Julian getting hurt. He’s got the skill to play varsity, at least in this league, but he could accidentally get stepped on. Or someone could fall on him.

  1. florida727 - Dec 20, 2012 at 10:48 AM

    “He has moves that even NBA players don’t have. He does stuff that hasn’t been done before.”

    Actually, this is an accurate statement. Has any other NBA player dribbled a ball between Kevin Durant’s legs while KD is standing flat-footed on the court? I doubt it.

    Rick, you’re wrong about eligibility. This kid could end up playing up to EIGHT years of varsity basketball. See below, copied from the FHSAA website, with the emphasis added by me.

    9.5.1 High School Student Has Four Years of Eligibility. A student has four consecutive calendar years of
    This does NOT imply that the student has four years of participation. A student becomes permanently ineligible four consecutive calendar years from the date he/she begins ninth grade for the first time.