Get used to reading the name Julian Royal. There is a good chance you'll see it a lot over the next three years.
The 6-foot-7 forward from Milton (Ga.) High School had the best freshman year of anyone in the 2011 class this season and has the tools to get even better.
Royal averaged 18.3 points, 11 rebounds and 2.5 blocks a game as a rookie while shooting 48 percent from the floor. The long and lanky rookie shined against some of the top upperclassmen in Atlanta this season by using his size, length and skill in the post as well as on the wing.
"I think I did pretty well this year. It wasn't a bad start for my freshman year," Royal said. "I would have liked to have done a lot better, of course. I would have liked to have gone to state and gone that far."
His coach, David Boyd, also coached McDonald's All-American Gani Lawal when he was a freshman. Boyd said the two compare and contrast in styles.
"They are about the same size in the ninth grade. Gani was probably a little stronger and a little bit better defender and rebounder. But Julian was a little bit more skilled offensively, ball-handler and shooter. He has a great touch. He can consistently shoot the three-pointer. That wasn't Gani's forte," Boyd said. "They are very similar. If Julian can combine Gani's strength and work ethic with his skill level, then you have something really special there."
Royal's leadership skills were the foundation of a decision Boyd made at the beginning of the year. He named Royal a team captain.
"You never have to worry about him getting into trouble or not doing his work or anything like that. He doesn't have a mean chip on his shoulder," Boyd said. "That's important to me and I think that is why he's going to be a great player because he's a great person and a great student from a great family. You put all of those things together and you're going to be good."
Boyd said he is looking forward to seeing how much Royal improves over the spring and summer after a tour with the Georgia's King James Shooting Stars outfit.
"We're expecting him to come back next year even better than before," Boyd said. "I'd love to see him dunk everything around the basket, playing more comfortable inside and out and just better overall. We play in a good league and we'd expect him to come back and be an even better leader."
Royal said Duke, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgetown, North Carolina, Southern Cal, UAB and UCLA have all shown interest. Royal visited Georgia Tech, North Carolina and UAB unofficially this season.
Time is obviously on his side and the freshman said he hasn't paid too much attention to who has been in to see him or what letters are waiting for him.
"It's been kind of fun," Royal said. "But I try not to think about it because it is so far down the line."
The well-grounded and humble rookie said he is looking forward to putting in the work to get better this spring and summer.
"I always know that there is someone else out there working just as hard as I am so that keeps me motivated," Royal said. "You have to stay on it and keep working hard."