La Marque Sophomore on the Rise

La Marque sophomore guard Julien Lewis is one of the fastest rising basketball prospects in the state of Texas in the 2011 class. The 6-3, 190 pound combo guard has gone from an unknown to attracting attention from Big 12 programs in a matter of weeks. Burnt Orange Beat met with Lewis and his coach in La Marque to discuss his game and his future.

The La Marque Cougars are known throughout the state of Texas for the prowess on the football field after winning multiple 4A state titles in the last 15 years. While football still remains king and always will, the basketball program has enjoyed their fair share of success in recent years too, and figures to have three years of playoff runs in them behind sophomore combo guard Julien Lewis.

The 6-3, 190 pound guard entered the 2008 season as a virtual unknown having transferred from Galveston Ball where he played on the junior varsity as a freshman.

Sophomore Julien Lewis No Longer an Unknown

The old school guard played his first varsity game for the Cougars on November 17 scoring 16 points in an 80-74 loss to state ranked Wheatley. In the days following, the UIL informed La Marque that all of the transfer paper work hadn't gone through leading Lewis to sit out the next eleven games.

Lewis was cleared to play on December 12 and what a return it was for the guard that is equally adept going left or right off of the dribble. Having scored only nine points through three quarters against Oak Ridge in the Dayton Holiday Classic, the soft spoken sophomore went off in a big way scoring 30 points in the fourth quarter and both overtime periods in the Cougars 82-75 double overtime victory.

The performance didn't come as a surprise to LaMarque head coach Cedric Mason who says Lewis is already a D-I caliber player.

"I think he's already a legit D-I prospect as a sophomore," Mason said. "He's a big guard that can dribble, pass, shoot it and jump. He's got amazing skills. I'm just waiting for him to have another breakout game. His first game back (from UIL suspension) he went for 39 points and 30 of them came in the fourth quarter and overtime alone," Mason said.

While Lewis hasn't put another 30-plus-point night in the books, he has begun to be more assertive scoring the ball as the district title race tightens and the playoffs draw near. The well-built sophomore has scored 24 in each of the last two games, with his scoring outburst being the difference in a Tuesday night win at Friendswood keeping the Cougars in the district championship hunt.

While Lewis is averaging close to 18 points per game, scoring the ball isn't his singular focus and in fact, isn't a focus at all sometimes says Lewis who is focused on winning district.

"This season is going great," Lewis said. "We are trying to get the number one seed in district. I'm distributing the ball, dishing out to my teammates, finding the open man and breaking people down off the dribble," the sophomore said.

Coach Mason says his star pupil brings a versatile skill set to the floor that includes unselfish play, which is hard to find in player with the talent of Lewis at his age.

"He's more off the bounce. He's got a quick first step. We moved him to the point and it made us a better offensive team because he's unselfish and I think that's a strength of his game because at any time he can go for 30 plus if he wanted to. He takes more pride in getting his teammates involved," Mason said.

With the impressive all-around play on the court and the talk beginning among area high school coaches, Lewis has began to receive interest from a pair of in-state programs.

"I don't really know who all is recruiting me right now. I think A&M is probably trying to get me. They wanted me to come up for a game. Texas has asked about me too," Lewis said.

Lewis, who's cousin Courtney Captain played at Galveston Ball, East Carolina and now in Europe, says the Texas Longhorns are a school he has a lot of interest in.

"I just like everything about them, but I've never been up there to meet the coaches. I've been on the campus before, but just walked around and looked," Lewis said.

The AP student says he doesn't care what position he plays at the next level as he just wants to be on the court.

"It doesn't matter to me where I play. I can play any position. I can play the one, two or three. They want to put me anywhere and I'll play it to be on the floor," Lewis said.

Lewis and his La Marque teammates play host to the Angleton Wildcats tonight at 7:30pm in what will likely decide the district title. Angleton (22-9, 9-3) won the first meeting 89-69, but La Marque (21-10, 9-3) comes in on a six game winning streak.

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