RALEIGH, N.C. – Coming into the John Wall Holiday Invitational, Downey Christian School (Orlando, Fla.) point guard Julian Newman promised in his USA Today Sports blog that he would put on a show at this year’s event.
Last year the 5-foot-7 viral sensation received a chilly reception from the Raleigh, North Carolina crowd in all three of his games.
That trend continued.
The capacity crowd heckled Newman with chants of everything from “Overrated” to “We want Jaden,” referencing Newman’s younger sister who is also an elite basketball player.
Julian, who was sporting a white T-shirt with a line through the word “Overrated” on the front, never reacted.
“I’m used to the hate,” Newman said. “I get that all the time, but this crowd is probably the worst I’ve had as far as heckling. I know it’s all part of the game though. It doesn’t affect me.”
It’s the gift and the curse of overexposure.
Newman has started varsity since the fifth grade and is the youngest player ever to eclipse 3,000 career points. He’s been featured on every show from the “Steve Harvey Show” to the “Ellen DeGeneres Show” to “Good Morning America” and has amassed more than 350 million views on YouTube.
He averaged 14 points a game at last year’s John Wall Holiday Invitational, his first event back after missing five straight games with a strained lumbar in his back.
Newman came into this year’s event averaging 35 points a game but struggled mightily all week, shooting 13-of-53 from the field and averaging 17.6 points in three losses.
In the two years at the John Wall Invitational, Downey Christian is the first team in the tournament’s 47-year history to start 0-6.
“I just feel like I was pressing it a little too much because I wanted to basically shut all the fans up,” Newman said. “It’s frustrating because, other than Prolific, those teams aren’t even that good. They’re not on the level of the teams we play all the time. It’s no excuse though; I just played bad.”
Newman said he’s hoping that the Patriots get invited back next year because he’s confident the third time will be the charm.
“All of those people already know that I can play so when I think about it now I shouldn’t have worried about proving anything to them,” Newman said. “I should’ve just showcased other parts of my game. It’s just frustrating, but we’ll just have to learn from it and keep pushing.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY