Julian Smith Sapulpa basketball scoring leader

Julian Smith all-time leading scorer in Sapulpa basketball history
Posted on 02/19/2019
Julian Smith(SPS) - “I would like to encourage you to work hard in school and always do your best.”

Those were the words of Duke University head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski to eighth-grader Julian Smith back in March 2015.

You read that correctly. The all-time leading scorer in Sapulpa boys basketball history received a letter from the college basketball coaching legend about the importance of staying focused and getting a good education.

“The rewards will benefit you tremendously,” Coach K wrote in the letter.

Julian must have taken the letter to heart because the rewards of his hard work have been tremendous.

He is the first 4-year letter winner since 1998. He holds the third-highest scoring average in school history. He’s helped lead the team from a .500 record just three years ago to one of the top teams in 6A. And now, he sits alone with the most points scored in the boys’ hoops program. Prior to the home game against Bartlesville, Julian had 1,310 career points. That total grew by 14 points against the Bruins and will continue to climb with two regular season games and the postseason remaining.

On Senior Night, he was honored with a commemorative basketball, cake, and banners recognizing his accomplishment on the court. He considers the scoring title as his favorite memory of his time at Sapulpa High School.

“I’m always going to remember that,” he said.

But he admits being at center court during the Senior Night festivities and seeing the crowd’s reaction toward him as they applauded and cheered for him wasn’t exactly his most comfortable moment.

“I was shaking. My leg was shaking. I was like, ‘Man this is scary,’” said Julian as he laughed remembering the moment.

Once the court cleared and the horn sounded to start the game, he focused on his job and didn’t let the pressure of the moment affect his game.

“I just got out there and played hard for my teammates. Without them, I couldn’t have even did it,” said Julian referring to the scoring title. “I just played hard.”

Playing hard comes naturally and it’s something Julian will continue at the next level. He already has an offer from Cleveland State University as well as strong interest from four other Division I schools. Unlike the fast and frenetic pace the Chieftains play on the court, Julian is taking his time and being patient about his decision about college.

“I don’t want a coach that just care about winning a basketball game. That don’t mean anything,” said Julian. “I’ve been doing that forever. As long as I find a coach that care about me more than basketball then I feel like we got something, we’re getting somewhere.”

By talking to him, you can see Julian has his priorities in order. And you can look back on that letter he received four years ago that may have helped push him in the right direction.

“Do not allow outside pressures to distract you from your positive goals in life,” Coach K wrote. “Setting priorities is taking care of first things first.”

If you didn’t know about the letter from Coach Krzyzewski, you may not know about Julian’s favorite food, favorite movie, favorite basketball moment, and more. Check out this video to learn more about Sapulpa’s Mr. Basketball.

The Chieftains closed out the regular season with an 18-4 record and will host a Regional for the first time since 1999.

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