DETROIT – David DeJulius is not your typical teenager.
DeJulius doesn’t eat junk food, he doesn’t drink carbonated soda and he attends yoga classes regularly.
He’s also one of the best basketball players in the state.
A 6-foot guard at Detroit East English, DeJulius, who has signed with University of Michigan, was rated as one of the top players before this season – and it’s safe to say that few players, in any class, are having a better season at this point. He’s averaging 28 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game, and his team is ranked in the top 10 in Class A by every news organization that releases weekly rankings.
The candidates for the coveted Mr. Basketball Award won’t be announced for about a month. But it’s difficult to imagine DeJulius’ name won’t be on that short list.
DeJulius, 18, might not be the best basketball player in what is a strong senior class, and he might not win Mr. Basketball. But it won’t be because he didn’t work hard enough or have the proper guidance from those close to him.
As for his nutrition intake, DeJulius credits his father, Dave, for the basics. The elder DeJulius also played basketball in the Detroit Public School League at two eastside high schools (Denby and Osborn).
“He told me to put the right food in my body,” DeJulius said. “I eat healthy. I haven’t drank pop in three years. It’s beyond basketball. I want to create a healthy lifestyle. I want to check every box.”
In addition to the workouts he receives from East English coach Juan Rickman, DeJulius works with three personal trainers to hone his body and improve his knowledge of the game. One of those trainers is former Detroit Pershing coach A.W. Canada. Another is one of Canada’s former assistants, James Cleage, and the third is Tony Harrison, who specializes in boxing and footwork beneficial in athletics.
During the season DeJulius watches game film with Canada, and the two go over nuances to improve DeJulius’ knowledge of the game. Cleage attends the majority of East English’s games, and the two talk afterward about what DeJulius did right and how his play could be improved.
“During the season it’s more to do with strategy,” DeJulius said of the time spent with personal trainers. “During the offseason it’s more physical.
“I do cross training with my boxing workouts. It helps me a lot. Conditioning-wise, you have to give it your all. With Tony, it’s more core work. I only spend about 15 minutes in the ring.”
On Sundays during the season, when many basketball players take the day off, DeJulius attends a yoga class. During the offseason he practices yoga three to four times a week.
“It stretches me out,” he said. “It keeps me limber. And it’s good for my hips.”
DeJulius spent the first two years of high school at Detroit Edison Public School Academy, a charter school located in the city’s Eastern Market area. He was a highly-publicized player when he enrolled at Edison, and his team reached a Class C Regional Final his freshman season and lost in a District Semifinal to Pershing when he was a sophomore. DeJulius was labeled a scorer who had yet to reach his potential when he transferred to East English.
“I knew of him vaguely before he got here,” Rickman said. “I remember him having a high skill set and a good work ethic, or so I heard. But when he came here I wanted him to put it all together. I wanted him to learn how to play a complete game. I wanted him to pass more. I don’t think he understood or knew how to get his teammates involved. He didn’t understand where the defense was at.
“He’s improved on his defense, and that becoming a better defender has improved his offense as well, because he’s now able to predict the positioning of the defenders which allows him to be more efficient and also allows him to make more plays for his teammates.”
Physically, DeJulius was developing. And with the help of Canada, Rickman and others, DeJulius was also gaining a better understanding of the game and what it took for him to become more of a complete player.
“The biggest change for me was here, at East English, its family oriented,” he said. “I’m getting tremendous support on and off the court.”
DeJulius also rid himself of an unflattering nickname given to him when he first came to East English.
“They called me ‘the watcher’ when I first got here,” he said. “As far as rebounding and playing off-the-ball defense, I used to watch a lot. (Rickman) told me I’m too strong, too fast not to rebound.
“Now, as a senior, I’m much better. I’m a senior. I have to get it done now. Physically, I’ve improved my jump shot and I rebound better. My passing has improved. I see the floor much better now, and I’m able to create for my teammates.”
Two current players have had a significant impact on DeJulius and his maturation process. One is his former East English teammate Greg Elliott, who plays for coach Steve Wojciechowski at Marquette University. The other is former U-M point guard Derrick Walton, Jr., who played at Harper Woods Chandler Park Academy, located just a few miles from East English.
As a junior at East English, Elliott helped the Bulldogs capture the school’s first PSL title.
“I learned a lot from Greg,” DeJulius said. “It’s the intangibles. At Marquette, he’s not their first option (offensively) but he’s their best defender. Derrick and I talked about a week ago. I can be that type of player at Michigan. He passes the ball better than I do. I shoot it better. I think I can affect Michigan much the same way he did.”
Should DeJulius win Mr. Basketball, he would be the first player from the PSL to win the award since Pershing’s Keith Appling in 2010.
Riding an 11-game winning streak, East English is 12-2 overall and, at 7-1, has clinched first place in the PSL East Division 1. The Bulldogs will have one of the top two seeds when the PSL playoffs begin next week.
“I believe my chances are very good,” DeJulius said of the possibility of winning the award. “First of all, we’re winning. There’s the stat line I’m putting up against some of the best competition.
“It would mean a lot to me. It would mean a lot to me and the school.”
Tom Markowski is a columnist and directs website coverage for the State Champs! Sports Network. He previously covered primarily high school sports for the The Detroit News from 1984-2014, focusing on the Detroit area and contributing to statewide coverage of football and basketball. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties.
PHOTO: Detroit East English’s David DeJulius pushes the ball upcourt this season. (Photo by David Donoher.)
We've got a long way to go before the stories of this season conclude with four MHSAA boys basketball champions crowned March 15 at Michigan State University's Breslin Center.
But the first week of the 2023-24 regular season gave us plenty to fill our first installment of “Breslin Bound” – our official tip-off to following more than 700 boys basketball teams through those final buzzers in East Lansing.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Flint Carman-Ainsworth 46, Flint Beecher 44 This was their first meeting since January 2022 and it provided a memorable start as the Cavaliers downed the reigning Division 3 champion.
2. Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 75, Ferndale 66 These two both have several new contributors, but big things will be expected again as well as Brother Rice regularly contends in Division 1 and Ferndale is the reigning Division 2 champion.
3. Lansing Waverly 58, Detroit Martin Luther King 57 Waverly took major strides last season doubling its win total from 2021-22 and could be on the verge of more coming off this impressive victory at the Detroit Douglass Tip-Off Classic.
4. Norway 49, Munising 48 After the Knights gave Munising a tough final regular-season test last season, the Mustangs went on to claim the Division 4 championship. Norway will attempt to build off back-to-back 15-7 seasons starting with this win.
5. Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 64, Grandville Calvin Christian 44 These two combined to finish 46-9 a season ago, when Calvin defeated Tri-unity 63-42 in the regular-season finale (although the Defenders rebounded to finish Division 4 runners-up).
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Rochester Adams (2-0) The Highlanders provided one of the best late-breaking stories of last season, reaching the Division 1 Quarterfinals after finishing fourth of five teams in a strong Oakland Activities Association Red that also featured North Farmington and Ferndale. The momentum started rolling again with wins last week over Milford 52-48 and Macomb L’Anse Creuse North 74-59.
Utica (2-0) Last season’s co-champion in the Macomb Area Conference Blue defeated MAC White reigning champion Port Huron Northern 68-49 in their opener and then Utica Eisenhower 56-41 at the MAC Champions of Champions event at Center Line. Utica improved to 15-7 last season after finishing 7-14 in 2021-22.
Dundee (2-0) After holding its own last season in a strong Lenawee County Athletic Association and finishing 13-12 overall, Dundee is hoping to turn a fast start last week into a climb up the standings with league play starting Friday. The Vikings doubled up East Jackson 52-26 and downed Milan 67-37 to start things off.
Goodrich (1-0) A 22-5 finish last season included a shared championship in the Flint Metro League Stars and a run to the Division 2 Quarterfinals, where the Martians fell by only five to eventual champion Ferndale. The second-to-last of those five losses came to Flint Beecher, 70-55, but Goodrich avenged it Friday with a 58-55 win over the Bucs.
Hillsdale (2-0) The Hornets finished just 4-19 last season, their second sub-.500 in a row. But the turnaround may be starting. Hillsdale is halfway toward last year’s win total after defeating Union City 53-45 and Jonesville 50-40 – and after losing to Union City 52-36 and Jonesville 39-23 last season, with Jonesville going on to finish 19-6.
Royal Oak Shrine Catholic (2-0) This is another team well on its way to bettering last season’s success by Jan. 1. After going 3-19 last winter, Shrine defeated Bloomfield Hills Roeper 48-30 and Utica Ford 55-52 in overtime last week. Ford had defeated the Knights 63-50 last season, and the 55 points Shrine scored this time would have been their second-highest total of 2022-23.
Adrian Lenawee Christian (2-0) Lenawee Christian finished last season on an 11-5 run after a 2-7 start, and might be rolling that right into this season as well after opening with a 74-60 win over Blissfield and 73-58 overtime victory over Hanover-Horton. Blissfield was among teams to deal the Cougars a loss during last season’s tough early stretch. Lenawee Christian is playing in the Tri-County Conference this winter after playing previously as an independent.
Wakefield-Marenisco (2-0) The Cardinals were a solid 13-10 last season, with the final week including a third win over Bessemer as they faced off in a District Semifinal, followed by a third loss to Ironwood in the District championship game. This season’s first week saw the same schedule, but a better outcome – Wakefield-Marenisco edged Bessemer 60-57 and this time defeated Ironwood 48-30. Ironwood was first and W-M third last season in the Copper Mountain Conference Porcupine Mountain.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – River Rouge (1-0) at Ferndale (1-1) – As noted above, Ferndale was last season’s Division 2 champion, and defeated Rouge 72-60 in last winter’s meeting.
Friday – Kalamazoo Central (0-0) at Battle Creek Central (0-0) – These longtime rivals finished first and third, respectively, in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East last season.
Saturday – Detroit Cass Tech (0-0) at Holt (1-0) – The Rams host the reigning Division 1 champion Technicians in the 4:30 p.m. game of the Moneyball Classic.
Saturday – Grand Rapids South Christian (0-0) vs. Rockford (1-0) at Calvin University – This will be the 10 a.m. opener of The Invite at Calvin University, with the reigning Division 2 runner-up Sailors taking on a Rockford team coming off an 18-win season.
Saturday – Grand Rapids Catholic Central (0-0) vs. Grand Rapids Northview (1-0) at Calvin University – This will cap off The Invite tipping approximately 7:35 p.m. and pitting last season’s Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold co-champion and White outright champion, respectively.
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PHOTOS (Top) A Westland John Glenn player gets to the basket during U-D Jesuit's season-opening 83-48 win over the Rockets. (Middle) Bath defenders surround a Charyl Stockwell player during the Sentinels' 63-55 victory. (Top photo by Olivia B. Photography; middle photo by Click by Christine McCallister.)