Julian Phillips never had the typical sulky moment back in March when he learned that spring and summer circuit basketball was cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead, Phillips chose to focus on development from the beginning; after all, if he was going to make good on his goal for a breakout summer, he knew he’d have his work cut out for him.
“I knew it was gonna be hard with everything closed,” Phillips said. “I knew that I was gonna have to put in work like I never had before. I feel like this pandemic really showed who was gonna work for it and be self-motivated. That’s a big part of it.”
It paid off in a big way.
This summer in limited action with Upward Stars Southeast (S.C.) Phillips, a junior, averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds a game.
That production has Ohio State, Kansas, Florida State, Clemson, Iowa State and North Carolina in a regular rotation for calls and texts. In all, Phillips has 22 offers.
On June 15, when the NCAA permitted college coaches to contact players in the 2022 class, Phillips picked up seven new offers from colleges.
“My goal coming into the spring was to get more offers from top colleges,” Phillips said. “I’m definitely happy that I was able to get closer to my goal in a year like this one. I just feel like it shows that I’ll do whatever it takes to improve; that’s just how I’m built.”
At 6-foot-8, Phillips is a versatile and athletic forward who finishes above the rim with authority and can step out to knock down the mid-range jump shot. His length and agility make him a capable defender and rebounder and his motor gives him an edge on both ends of the floor.
Three games into its season at Blythewood (S.C.), the school district mandated that winter sports be postponed until January. Phillips was averaging 20 points and nine rebounds for the 2-1 Bengals.
“It’s possible that they may just cancel it altogether,” Phillips said of the season. “I’m hoping they don’t, but I’m preparing for everything. I’m just gonna keep working because there are offers out there that I think I can get. The only way to get there is to work.”