2018 Intros - Madison Prep

There's been a lot of talent on the hardwoood lately at Baton Rouge charter school Madison Prep. TSD introduces you to two 2018 standouts - Kobe Julien and Josh LeBlanc.

Considering Madison Prep has been to the state championship game two years running, it's easy for followers of Louisiana high school basketball to rattle off names of some of the top talent that's been carrying the load for coach Jeff Jones.

First there was 2013 McDonald's All-American Jarell Martin, who's about to embark on his second season at LSU. Since his departure the likes of Brandon Sampson, a four-star guard in the Class of 2015, 2016 post player Yuryk Lazard and 2017 guard Josh Anderson have stepped in to lead the Chargers.

But, especially in the world of basketball recruiting, it pays to know who's next.

Two incoming freshmen – yes, Class of 2018ers – are starting to make some noise and are poised to play legit minutes in their first high school season this spring.

Josh Leblanc (6-5, 180) and Kobe Julien (6-3.5, 172) are the two names to remember. They'll not only contribute to the present at Madison Prep, but the athletic duo represents the bright future of the basketball program as well.

Both will be in Atlanta this weekend, among the 60 or so incoming freshmen nationwide invited to the Under Armour Best of the Best Camp. They'll return to the ATL the final weekend in June for the eighth annual Fab Frosh Camp.

So just who are these two young men beginning to make the climb? TSD recently interviewed both to find out and get an introduction.

JOSH LEBLANC

Maybe the most impressive thing about LeBlanc, who already wears a size 16.5 shoe, is he's probably not done growing. The son of a 6-foot-6 father and 6-foot-2 mother, young Josh is still adjusting to his rangy body.

A self-proclaimed "post player and big man," LeBlanc anticipates he can chip in this season as the primary backup and occasional change-of-pace option for the heavier Lazard.

"I can help the team in many ways, by rebounding and playing defense, holding the paint down, and playing good, solid offense," LeBlanc told TSD.

Where he wants to improve his game the most is shooting it from distance. LeBlanc is "very comfortable" in the pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop game, but he feels he can expand his range to become even more of an offensive weapon.

"I can shoot well from 10 to 15 feet," explained LeBlanc. "I'm talking more about getting out on the perimeter and making shots."

While he's still a year or two from attracting collegiate attention, LeBlanc listed Kansas and Kentucky as the programs he's most enjoyed watching during his childhood.

KOBE JULIEN

Sometimes it's all in the name. "It feels good having the name," said Julien with a smile. "I'm proud of being named after Kobe Bryant."

Of course sometimes it's in the genes, too.

Julien's father Wayne starred at St. Augustine High School before playing at the University of Southwestern Louisiana (USL), now UL Lafayette, in the late seventies and early eighties alongside Andrew Toney.

Wayne, 6-foot-6, is playing an active part in teaching his son the finer points of the game. "He coaches me and keeps telling me what I need to do," Kobe continued. "He really helps me a lot."

Coming over from Westdale Middle School, Julien is still feeling out his transition on the court, noting how much more physical the game has been even in summer workout sessions.

"It was fun over there," Julien said of Westdale. "I had a good experience. It's harder over here just with the physicality and how big everyone is."

Julien, who indicated he models his game after Kevin Durant, describes himself as "a power forward who can step away and shoot it. I like to play on the outside." In that vein Julien is already drawing some comparisons to Martin, but, in all fairness, only time will tell if he can ascend to that rarified air.

What is certain, however, is that talents like Julien and LeBlanc will keep college coaches and sportswriters like me flocking to Madison Prep for years to come, well after Sampson is off on a college campus.



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