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Spotlight on Former Athlete - Wayne Julien: Intimidator on the Inside (Men's Basketball 1976-81)
Wayne Julien, Cajun Basketball 1976-81
1976-77 – Cajuns win Southland Conference, finish 21-8 under Jim Hatfield.
1977-78 – Cajuns go 19-8. Julien hits 168-of-300 shots, a team-best 56 percent, averages 13.7 points and 8.6 rebounds per game (231).
1978-79 – Cajuns finish 16-11 under Bobby Paschal. Julien takes redshirt.
1979-80 – Cajuns finish 21-9, reach quarterfinals of NIT. Julien averages 12.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, hitting 54.1 percent (165-of-305) from the floor.
1980-81 – UL finishes 15-13 in Julien's final season.
Wayne Julien: Intimidator on the Inside
By Bruce Brown
Wayne Julien wasn't the biggest center in USL basketball history, generously listed at 6-foot-7, but he was capable of situational ferocity that left fans marveling.
Take the 1980 National Invitation Tournament, when the Cajuns hosted Alabama-Birmingham in the opener at Blackham Coliseum.
The game is remembered for Dion Rainey's jumper from the deep corner in front of the USL bench that produced a 74-72 victory, but Julien hit 11-of-16 shots, totalled 23 points and ripped down 5 rebounds in the win.
“I remember UAB had a pair of 6-8 guys who were both great players,” Julien said. “You hear about stuff like that, and it gets you motivated. Oh, yeah, I was there to play.”
The next round of that NIT effort was equally exciting, and successful for the Cajuns, who pulled out a 77-76 road win at Texas on a drive in the lane by point guard Carl Jordan.
Almost unnoticed, Julien hit 7-of-11 shots and totalled 18 poins and 8 rebounds.
The Cajuns fell to Minnesota 94-73 in the quarterfinals as Julien and others struggled against a sequoia-like front line of 6-9 Mychal Thompson, 7-2 Randy Bruer and 6-10 Kevin McHale.
Julien managed 8 points and 7 boards, but had little help inside.
“They had guards who were 6-6,” Julein recalled. “We got off to a good start. I think we were only down 7 or 8 at the half. Then McHale hit three jumpers. Coach (Bobby) Paschal was not pleased.”
Julien impressed NIT people enough to be named to an all-star team from the event who were gathered to play in Yugoslavia and Italy – in a year in which the USA boycotted the Olympic Games.
“I met P.J. Carlesimo,” Julien said. “We played two or three games in Yugoslavia and two or three more In Italy the next week. It was my first time overseas. It was interesting.”
Julien also left an impression on nearby foes.
“Everybody seems to remember my dunk against McNeese,” Julien said. “I got a rebound, ran down the court, then left about three steps before the foul line. People said it looked like I took off from the parking lot.
“Back then, post players weren't supposed to do that. I had to play back to the basket, but I got better and better.”
The 1976-77 Cajuns won the Southland Conference and finished 21-8 with new arrivals like Andrew Toney, Mr. Basketball in Alabama, not long after the school ended two years of probation with the NCAA.
Julien became a force in 1977-78 leading the team with 56 percent shooting from the field and 8.6 rebounds per game and averaging 13.7 points per game.
After redshirting in 1978-79, Julien came back to average 12.8 points and 8.8 rebounds for the NIT squad. He played on more season, but fell out of favor with Paschal.
“I came back stronger than ever,” Julien said, “but I got off to a bad start and my playing time became less and less. Coach wanted to go with other players. It was rough. But I dealt with it.”
Julien came to play for coach Jim Hatfield, and eventually Paschal, from a strong career at St. Augustine High in New Orleans.
“They had seen me have some good games in AAU ball in Cincinnati,” Julien said. “I got off a couple of shots – a one-handed dunk, then a two-handed dunk – and they went and got letters for me to sign.
“USL was my third visit, and when I got there I saw Roy Henry and Ron Irving already there and playing football. They were ahead of me at St. Aug, but I knew who they were.
“I just felt comfortable. It was the last visit I took. I read a few articles about Andrew Toney coming. We were coming off probation, but I thought it might be a good thing. We had a chance to do something different, special.”
Toney went on to score 2,526 points in an All-American career, then helped the Philadelphia 76ers to the 1983 NBA title before mounting foot injuries shortened a brilliant pro career.
“I still talk to teammates like Andrew, Cordy Glenn, Kevin Figaro,” said Julien, retired from Dow Chemical and living in Baton Rouge. “Andrew and I talk two, three times a week.”
Kobe hoping for future success
It's good for Julien to live that close to Lafayette, so he can make regular visits to the Cajundome to see his son Kobe play for the current Cajuns of coach Bob Marlin.
A redshirt freshman from Madison Prep, Kobe Julien was third on the team at 12.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. But he will miss the rest of the season after December knee surgery similar to the injury that blunted his senior year at Madison Prep in Baton Rouge.
“We're disappointed for Kobe after all of the hard work that he has put in to come back from a knee injury that he suffered in high school,” Marlin said. “He was having a great season as a redshirt freshman and provided us with leadership in the front court. We know that he will work hard in the rehabilitation process and we look forward to getting back in the lineup in the future.”
Julien remains hopeful his son can make his way back. He certainly has the talent when healthy.
“Kobe was naturally athletic from day one,” said Julien, who joined wife Sandra in welcoming daughters Kristen and Kelsey before Kobe arrived.
“In the youth leagues, he played quarterback but was also a heck of a defensive end in football. In the eighth grade, he could throw 60 yards on point. He had one year of baseball, and hit 24-of-26.
“He was always in condition and always highly intelligent. By the time he went to high school, I wanted him to concentrate on basketball.
“I was able to do a lot with Kobe in AAU basketball,” Julien said. “I drove the van, cooked for them. I was able to be around his teams since he was 7-9 years old.”
Kobe Julien helped Madison Prep win four straight state titles - three in Class 2A, one in 3A – and was named Player of the Year averaging 24 points and 10 rebounds per game.
TCU, South Florida, Richmond and Seton Hall were interested and Julien left the choice up to his son.
“I had very little input on the deal,” Julien said. “UL was the only triip he went on.”
Something Special, again
Years ago, Wayne Julien helped pull the Ragin' Cajuns out of the ashes of probation through his hard work and at times intimidaring moments on the court.
His son Kobe doesn't have nearly that far to reach for the Cajuns to get where they're going, but some of the traits are already there.
He just has to get healthy again.
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Pictured above is Wayne and his 1978-79 teammates.
Please click Photo Gallery on the left side of the www.athleticnetwork.net home page, Men's Basketball, then the years 1978-81 to view the photo galleries when Wayne was on the team.
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Wayne Julien #50, 1980 Kobe Julien #4, 2019
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Click here for the 2007-present chronological listings of the Spotlight on Former Athletes.
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