South Charlotte

Parker Julian is playing a lead role for Charlotte Latin basketball

Parker Julian was one of those rare freshmen to not only make the Charlotte Latin Hawks’ varsity team but see significant playing time as a reserve in the post.

As a sophomore, Julian contributed more more – averaging 12 points and six rebounds per game – while breaking into a talented starting lineup with four-year starters Rusty Reigel (now at Davidson) and Joe Baynard.

This year, the 6-foot-7, 185-pound 17-year-old junior is playing his best basketball, scoring a team-high 17 points and grabbing seven rebounds per game.

Julian’s progression puts him in rare company at Charlotte Latin.

“There aren’t many guys who have made the varsity as freshman and then played significant time right away,” said Charlotte Latin coach Chris Berger, a former Charlotte Latin player in his sixth year as Latin’s head basketball coach after 15 years as an assistant. “And so to do that says a lot about you and puts you in a rare class of players at Latin, like Anthony Morrow (Oklahoma City Thunder guard), Charles Dewhurst (former Charlotte 49er), Rusty Reigel (Davidson), Will Reigel (Davidson assistant coach), Joe Baynard, Adam Herrmann. …”

“For Parker, getting that playing time early and learning what it’s like to play a big conference game on the road on a Friday night has really paid off for him now.”

Julian is a Charlotte Latin lifer, attending the school since pre-kindergarten.

“I’ve been in the Charlotte Latin basketball system since seventh-grade,” Julian said. “I was really lucky to play for great coaches and with great players, who really took me under their wing like Jacob (Nabatoff) and Louis (Tonon) and Rusty (Reigel). I’ve tried to focus on continuing to take advantage of the opportunities in front of me.”

Julian has become a more complete player this season at Latin and has the “rare ability for a high school big man to able to play with his back to the basket or facing the basket,” according to Berger.

Julian’s versatility has allowed him to shoot 50 percent from the field this year.

Julian has played his best in most of the Hawks’ biggest games of late. He had a 23-point, nine-rebound game in a win against Charlotte Christian on Jan. 20 and 18 points in a narrow loss to Sweet 16 No. 2 Providence Day on Jan. 16.

Julian also was named to the all-tournament team at the Party City Invitational at Charlotte Latin on Dec. 29-30, when the Hawks beat Piedmont and Myers Park to win the event.

“I love the big-game atmosphere for a high school basketball, the crowds and even the people cheering against you,” Julian said. “I feed off all of that energy.”

Latin is 14-6 overall and 4-1 in conference play through Jan. 29, a record that has surprised Berger after he lost seven seniors from a year ago. Julian said he knew the team was playing with something to prove this season.

This summer, the Hawks had a strong run at both N.C. State’s and UNC Wilmington’s team camps.

“We all knew a lot of people were going to write us off after losing seven seniors and three starters from last year,” Julian said. “But we all believed in this team. A big key for us is that we all play together and we move the ball so well, and pass up good shots for great shots.”

The core of this year’s team – including starters Julian, senior point guard David Herrmann, junior shooting guard Caleb Jordan and senior forwards Anthony Bilas and Daniel Jones – also played together on the Charlotte Reign AAU team, coached by former Duke star and ESPN analyst Jay Bilas, Anthony’s father.

Berger said the emergence of Julian and Jones (12 points, 7.5 rebounds per game) has given the Hawks an added scoring dimension inside.

Their success this season has the tight-knit group believing it can make a run at the CISAA conference title and in the NCISAA playoffs, where the Hawks have lost in the quarterfinals five of the past six seasons.

“The first thing coach Berger always talks about each season is keeping the Latin jerseys on our seniors’ backs for as many games as possible,” Julian said. “We really want to be the team that goes deeper. We are going to have to work for it and earn it.”

Julian, whom Berger describes as a “gym rat,” constantly is working in the gym. He puts up hundreds of shots daily, whether it’s before school, on an off day or on weekends.

Berger says both Brown and Harvard have shown interest in Julian, while Boston College and Georgia (where he will make an unofficial visit later this month) also are on a list that is growing rapidly.

“Playing college basketball has always been a dream,” said Julian. “So to be in the recruiting process now and know teams are interested is really exciting. It’s great to know if I keep working hard, I have a good chance of playing basketball for four more years after high school.”