'The Watcher' Becomes Must-See Star

By Tom Markowski
Special for Second Half

February 1, 2018

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.)

St. Clair County Celebrates 1st Mr. Basketball Winner, PHN's Jamison

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

March 29, 2023

The Jamison family has spent plenty of time over the years driving long distances as Tyler chased his basketball dreams.

Bay & ThumbAfter the Port Huron Northern senior achieved one of the biggest ones, they had to put some more mileage on the family vehicle.

As the newly-crowned Mr. Basketball, Jamison was invited to a special presentation during the Boys Basketball Finals this past Saturday afternoon at the Breslin Center. It was an invitation Tyler and his family didn’t hesitate to accept, and the drive from Port Huron to East Lansing was nothing.

But it did cause a pretty big change to some other travel plans.

Tyler and his family were scheduled to fly to Florida on Friday for spring break. That flight had to be canceled, though, and instead, the family made the drive down later.

“There were some jokes about just leaving me and letting me find my own way down there,” Jamison said.

While they joke, there’s nowhere the Jamisons would have rather been Saturday than at the Breslin. As a true basketball family – Tyler’s dad Brian is also the coach at Northern, and his brother Alex was a standout freshman for the Huskies – they have a great appreciation for the Mr. Basketball Award and its significance.

“I had said a while ago, ‘Hey, if we’re still in the tournament, we’ll be playing Friday,” Brian Jamison said. “I even mentioned that it would be a miracle, but Tyler could win Mr. Basketball. Now we’re eating plane tickets and driving down to Florida. But it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we’re not missing this.”

Jamison was the overwhelming winner of the award, which is named after Hal Schram and given out by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan. He received 3,058 points in the vote to become its 43rd winner. Curtis Williams of Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (2,004 points), Kaden Brown of Grand Rapids Catholic Central (1,918), Sonny Wilson of Detroit U-D Jesuit (1,883) and Ryan Hurst of North Farmington (1,811) were the other finalists.

“It was just insane,” Tyler Jamison said. “I can’t even really put into words how I felt – it was just a dream come true, a culmination of all the hard work that’s been put in over the years. My mom was in the other room (when his dad called to tell him), and I just hugged her and we were kind of screaming. The dog was getting riled up. It was fun. There were a few tears shed.”

Jamison throws down a dunk.Jamison, who signed with Fairleigh Dickinson in December, finished the season averaging 26.7 points, 11.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.3 steals per game. He was named the Macomb Area Conference White division MVP after leading Northern to the league title and a 20-4 overall record.

Even with all that, winning the most prestigious individual basketball award in the state didn’t seem like a reality.

“We purposely try to play a tough schedule, and we purposely got into some showcases because we wanted people to see, not only him play, but us play,” Brian Jamison said. “We had beaten Skyline and Hamtramck, and went up to Croswell-Lexington and won up there, and I thought, ‘OK, now he’s done it against some of the better teams.’ Up to that point, when we played those tougher teams, he’s always showed out well, but it’s different when you’re not winning them. But at that point, I thought he had a chance. Really, I was just hoping he would get on the list. To win it was kind of above and beyond what I had hoped for.”

On the court, Tyler’s impact on the program was pretty obvious and immediate.

He’s the program’s all-time leading scorer – a record he set as a junior – with 1,763 career points. He also holds Northern records for career rebounds (825), points in a game (59), rebounds in a game (28), career field goals made (638) and career free throws made (439). As a junior, he was named MAC Blue MVP.

Northern did not lose a league game in either of the past two seasons.

But Northern is likely to see future success because of Tyler’s non-statistical impact.

Leading a young team, including a group of star freshmen – his brother Alex, Cam Harju and Amir Morelan – was a major part of Tyler’s job this season.

Northern’s home games were must-see events this winter, as the Huskies were one of Division 1’s top teams, and Tyler was providing nightly highlights and must-see performances. Even in his final game, a loss against Macomb Dakota in the District Final, Jamison treated the standing-room crowd with a 46-point performance and a halfcourt shot at the third-quarter buzzer in a valiant effort.

“That’s the big thing, you want the students and the school community to support you, and they did an amazing job,” Tyler Jamison said. “We also had people from the community that wanted to support us and watch us play. Port Huron High had a really good season, too, and I think both schools in the city had that public support. That’s huge. It makes you feel like you’re playing for more than yourself.”

Among those crowds were the next generation of Huskies, some of whom were coached by Tyler in youth basketball. As he’s the first Mr. Basketball winner from St. Clair County, those kids now have a hometown example of someone who has reached the highest heights.

“I think interest gets sparked when the little kids come to the gym, like, ‘Hey, I want to do that,’” Brian Jamison said. “They want to play for Northern or (Port Huron) High. And with him winning Mr. Basketball, I think it gives kids a little bit of ‘Hey, why not me?’ I do think it helps motivate younger people. We’ve had great crowds at our games. I think the area is excited about basketball. It really is a great basketball area.”

With all of that excitement surrounding him, Tyler had one more challenge after the season – keeping the secret that he had won. He found out six days before the award was announced.

“It was terrible – especially when it’s something of that magnitude,” he said. “You want to tell everyone. You want to tell your friends and family. It was hard to be like, ‘No, I don’t know.’”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Tyler Jamison, second from left, with his parents and brother, stands with his newly-received Mr. Basketball Award trophy during the ceremony at the Detroit Free Press. (Middle) Jamison throws down a dunk. (Photos courtesy of the Jamison family.)