Meet Julian Newman. Or maybe you’ve already met Julian Newman, even if you don’t know him by name. There was that credulous New York Times piece written in 2013, when Newman was just 11 years old and 4-foot-5, and playing for the varsity team, as well as a Tampa Bay Times piece a year later, which took in the full view of Newman’s hype with one eyebrow slightly raised. Here’s what Julian’s father Jamie had to say to the former Times:
“You see more of him dribbling the ball than you’ll see watching an N.B.A. game,” Jamie said, allowing parental pride to get the better of him.
Invoking two of Julian’s favorite players, Jamie added, “He can do stuff that Chris Paul and Derrick Rose can’t.”
And then to the latter:
Julian has been taught to believe in Jesus, and in himself, and he believes he will play in the NBA. “I don’t have a Plan B,” he told me. As Jamie put it: “That’s going to be the natural progression.”
Even if you missed those, you might have stumbled into the seemingly unending waves of the hype itself, such as clips in which a younger Newman seamlessly integrates Fortnite dances into something that could reasonably be confused for basketball:
If that’s not enough, and something closer to pro wrestling is your style, there are duels with lesser viral star Jaythan Bosch, highlighted by Newman throwing the ball at the face of his “rival,” pawing at him, making a beckoning “c’mere” gesture, and—when he can find the time—scoring:
Indistinguishable hoops content mills have put out dozens of clips of Newman, accruing millions of views. They’re all pretty funny, unabashedly stupid, and occasionally infuriating, and they share more or less the same thesis: Julian Newman dribbles. He is small, but he dribbles—a lot, fast, slow, low, high, with a Bieberian intensity and without much regard for gaining separation or doing anything else besides more dribbling. Sure, he also talks trash (up close and squirrelly) and shoots the basketball (a little oddly, from a low release point), but mostly he dribbles. Newman is the logical endpoint of the viral basketball economy. This is what Omar Raja hath wrought: increasingly dire “blowing steam” emojis as a quasi-famous teen dead-end dribbles into a double-team over and over again.
Meanwhile, in the analog world, Newman is now 17 and 5-foot-7, averaging 32.1 points, 6.7 assists, and 5.2 rebounds a game as a junior at Downey Christian in Orlando. In recent years he has leaned into his heel identity, regularly wearing t-shirts that read “prodigy” on the front and earning cries of “overrated” from local hecklers. He is reportedly now fielding an offer from D-I program UT-San Antonio, per SLAM. The “D-I college” qualifier is important, because understandably, few people recognize UTSA by name. Good luck to the future teammates who have to deal with this child and his formidable sports dad.