Baron flies to Santa Clara for college hoops

THE AIR UP THERE: Oakwood Barons’ guard Julian Clarke is alar as he sets his sights on Santa Clara University in the San Francisco Bay area. The OFSAA AAAA gold medalist looks to add a March Madness Final Four appearance to his résumé.

Do you know the way to San Jose?

Julian Clarke does, as the Oakwood Barons cager is trading in his gold and blue uniform for a red and white one, donning the colours of Division 1 basketball team Santa Clara Broncos.

Just south of the San Francisco Bay area, Clarke may seem to be following in the footsteps of Canadian superstar Steve Nash. But it’s not about a second coming, it’s about the return of the Broncos’ winning ways.

“There’s a lot of buzz around the university already about what’s going to happen in the next couple of years,” Clarke said, with ebullience. “I’d like to be a part of that.”

But there’s plenty of work ahead. Sitting between seventh and ninth on Santa Clara’s depth chart, the guard will have to bulk up during the off-season.

“I’m probably going to have to put on five to seven pounds of muscle before we start major training and practices,” he said. “I’ll be going (July 29) so I will have extra time with the strength coach and basically to get settled down there, and start improving on what I need to improve on.”

Clarke said the university is experiencing renaissance with plenty of sophomores and freshmen chomping at the chance to reach March Madness.

“The first goal is to get to March Madness. The second goal is hopefully getting to the Final Four,” he said. “We go as hard as we can from the get-go.”

Even though Pittsburgh hoopster powerhouse Duquesne and NCAA finalists Butler came courting, Clarke chose Santa Clara for both academics and closeness to family, as he has an aunt and cousin living in Los Angeles.

With plenty of support from his parents, he is also looking forward to pursuing his dream of becoming a doctor.

“Post graduation, I want to go to medical school if I can, somewhere near Santa Clara, but if not there back here in Canada and I also want to play basketball for the national team,” he said.

He admitted that sticking to the bio-chemistry books will take maturity, something he’s sees strengthening while away from his landing pad in Oakwood.

“My mom and my dad are saying, ‘You’re going to be pretty far away’, but it’s been known for a while that I need to be out of Toronto,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot more than just basketball. If I’m far away, on my own, it’s when I really get a chance to grow up.”

Heading southbound on life’s flight path hasn’t made Clarke forget about those four years he had with mentor and coach Anthony Miller.

“He put in a lot of extra time and he had a baby (boy with his wife) in the summer, so for him that was tough,” Clarke said. “He can really get on you and he’ll get on you whether you’re the 12th man or the star.

“When it comes to game situations he knows what you’re capable of, and he’s really encouraging when you go out there to do what you can for the team.”

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