Pint-sized Florida youth a basketball prodigy

Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:55am EST
 
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By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - At 4 feet 5 inches tall, starting point guard Julian Newman stands waist high next to other players on his Florida high school basketball team. But his talent towers over the competition.

A video of Newman's game highlights and dribbling stunts posted in December on YouTube went viral, currently logging nearly 3 million viewers.

Julian, who is only 11, leads the state of Florida in assists per game this season and ranks fifth nationally, according to Maxpreps.com, which maintains statistics on high school sports. The pint-sized prodigy easily shoots three-pointers from the longer-range NBA line and was invited to show off his skills at halftime during an Orlando Magic game.

"He was born with a God-given gift. He was born with that passion and that drive. And he stayed focused to get where he is today," said his coach and father Jamie Newman.

While others watch in wonder, Julian remains grounded.

"It's something I love to play and really have nothing better to do than get better at basketball," he said on Friday when asked what basketball means to him.

Right now, at 70 pounds and wearing a size 4 shoe, Julian's modest frame is swallowed up by the smallest available varsity basketball uniform. To keep it from falling off during play, he tightens the shoulders of the jersey with a girl's hair tie, and rolls the waistband of his shorts.

His father said doctors think Julian will top out at about 5 feet 10 inches, which is short, but not unheard of for the professional basketball player he aspires to be.   Continued...

 
Downey Christian high school varsity basketball player 11-year-old Julian Newman (C) greets other participants during Friday evening pickup basketball games at Downey Christian School in Orlando, Florida February 22, 2013. At 4 feet 5 inches tall, starting point guard Julian Newman stands waist high next to other players on his Florida high school basketball team. But his talent towers over the competition. At only 11, Newman leads the state of Florida in assists per game this season and ranks fifth nationally, according to Maxpreps.com, which maintains statistics on high school sports. REUTERS/Scott Audette