More and more, the pressure for young basketball prospects to perform is coming at an early age. It used to be that guys at least had a chance to get to high school and establish themselves. However, for guys like Julian Royal who developed a reputation among scouts and recruitniks before he even stepped on the floor as a freshman at Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton, the expectations are immediate.
Now a 6-foot-8 junior, Royal has made good on the early promise he showed. In fact, he kind of likes that people have always been gunning for him.
"It's good. I like playing against competition at the end of the day," said Royal. "I like to play against good teams and good players so it's cool if people know about me and come at me."
Long and lean, Royal is a perfect example of how positions are being re-defined. Though his height suggests that he be a post player, his inside-out game allows him to play in the paint or along the perimeter. Some call him a three, some call him a four and some call him a combo.
Royal, well he doesn't care how he's labeled.
"A lot of people tell me that I'll switch from the three and four in college," said Royal of where he best fits on the college level. "That's fine with me, I feel pretty comfortable in either spot."
A longtime teammate of 2011 point guard – and Ohio State commit – Shannon Scott on both the summer circuit and in high school, Royal says that his friend isn't pushing him too hard to join him in Columbus. At least not yet.
"(Shannon) doesn't talk about it that much," Royal told Buckeye Sports Report. "He does some, but I haven't really decided where I want to go yet but I've put Ohio State into consideration."
Among the others pursuing Royal are Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida, Florida State, Illinois, Clemson, Northwestern and countless others. However, Thad Matta and his staff have been doing their best to make an impression.
"They've got good coaches," said Royal of Ohio State. "They call when they can, they message us and they've come to some of our practices and stuff."
For now, though, Royal is fully focused on being a high school basketball player and being as good as he can be. He doesn't worry much about what people expect from him and is in no hurry to decide his future.
"I'm going to wait until spring of my senior year, or sometime around there," said Royal of when he'll make a college choice. "It gives you a chance to see who really wants you and stuff like that. Also, with coaches moving around so much you want to make sure guys are still there."