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Sophmore Batts emerges as leader for Jeannette boys

| Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Julian Batts is a sophomore point guard for the Jayhawks. Kristie Linden | The Jeannette Spirit

Julian Batts, a sophomore point guard for the Jeannette Jayhawks, has been playing basketball since he was little more than a toddler. He was playing by the age of 4, if not earlier, and remembers practicing with a Little Tikes basketball hoop. His older brothers — Tyler and Jordan — played basketball, but watching his father, Jeannette head coach Adrian Batts, probably motivated him most to give the sport a try.

“I started to really like playing,” said Batts. “It was just fun. Running around as a little kid. Later on it started getting more serious.”

These days it's hard for Batts to point to a single aspect of the game that he enjoys, it's been a part of his life for so long. He enjoys his role as point guard because, “you're in control of the whole team, basically the coach on the floor.”

Being a sophomore and one of the leaders on the team doesn't faze Batts, who said all of the members of this team lead by example.

“I look up to the seniors to be the leaders.”

This year's team is filled with members who like to have fun — even when they should be serious, Batts said with a laugh. These players enjoy each other's company and they all play multiple sports together.

This season has been a good one for Batts, who said he's learned a lot since his freshman year.

“I did a lot of things better,” he said. “I played a lot smarter this year, but I still have things I need to work on.”

He didn't set a personal goal this season, but his focus has been singular. He wants to win a championship this year.

The Jayhawks, who had a first-round bye, played in their first game of the postseason last night in a game that ended too late for this week's edition.

The team didn't know who they were facing until early this week, which was challenging when it came for preparation.

“It's hard (not knowing the opponent),” said Batts. “But we all have the same goal right now.”

Batts said practice leading up to the postseason has been focused with the players working hard and not going easy on each other. They had a scrimmage late last week that went well and encouraged Batts.

“We kind of have a new motto — three to get there, four to win. I have been trying to stress that,” said Batts.

At practice, Batts said, his father is his coach and he is simply another player.

“He always looks out for every one,” Batts said. “He's my coach and I'm his player. It's weird hearing everyone call him coach, but he's a great coach. He puts so much time into what he does for the best interest of the kids.”After high school, Batts hopes to attend college to play basketball. He hasn't settled on a school or a career path yet, but he is thinking about combining his interests in business and sports.

Batts is also a football player, he is a quarterback and defensive back, but basketball is his focus. This spring he'll play with the AAU team known as PA Rush. This summer, he'll play in a basketball league run by Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Charlie Batch, who is a good friend of the family.

“It's fun,” he said. He enjoys playing with kids who play at high schools that Jeannette doesn't compete against and he likes playing on outdoor courts.

Batts is thankful to his family —his mother Gina, his father and brothers, and little sister Gionna, his aunt T.T. Kriebel, grandfather John Morris Sr. and his uncle John Morris Jr. — “for always being there and supporting me in everything I need.”

Kristie Linden is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at klinden@tribweb.com or 724-838-5154.

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