Though it technically will be 2021 when his next competitive athletic seasons nearly overlap, the direction of Julian Hammond’s immediate athletic future truly is fitting for 2020.
The two-sport star from Cherry Creek announced his verbal commitment this past weekend to join the men’s basketball program at Colorado under coach Tad Boyle, becoming the third player to commit in what should be a large 2021 recruiting class for the Buffs.
Hammond, though, also is a standout quarterback for the Cherry Creek Bruins, coached by legendary Buff Dave Logan. In the topsy-turvy coronavirus pandemic world, Hammond will prep for his CU career during his final season of basketball at Cherry Creek, and then attempt to lead the Bruins to a second consecutive Class 5A football state championship in the spring.
That might change, of course, as CHSAA and Colorado governor Jared Polis continue going back-and-forth in regards to a potential earlier start to the football season than the current spring plan. Make no mistake, though — as long as there is no crippling overlap between the seasons, Hammond still plans to play spring football even though it will only be a few months before he begins his collegiate basketball career. And he says he has the blessings of the CU coaching staff to go pursue that second straight football state championship.
As things stand, the last possible date of the boys basketball state tournament is March 6, with the first day of football competition slated for March 4.
“I’ve always had my mind towards basketball, but I if I found a good place for football I was open to playing there,” Hammond said. “But basketball was definitely my first choice all along. It was real nice that (CU) was not real strict on ‘Oh, you’re not doing this, or you’re not doing that.’ It was nice to hear them say they’ll be fine with me playing (football).
“If I get a chance to win back-to-back state championships, I definitely want to play (football) my senior year.”
Hammond is the third commit for the Buffs for what is shaping up to be a promising 2021 class, joining Wyoming 7-footer Lawson Lovering and Washington DC-area commit Quincy Allen, both of whom are ranked as four-star recruits by 247Sports.com. The Buffs project to have at least five open scholarships for 2021, replacing this upcoming year’s senior class of McKinley Wright IV, D’Shawn Schwartz, Maddox Daniels, Alex Strating, and Jeriah Horne.
Hammond, a 6-foot-2 guard, did a little bit of everything for the Bruins last year on the basketball court, averaging 21.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 2.0 steals. He shot .504 overall from the floor with a solid .414 mark on 3-pointers (46-for-111).
At quarterback for Cherry Creek, Hammond threw for 2,354 yards in 2019 while completing 62.8% of his passes. He finished with 28 touchdown passes against just seven interceptions.
Basketball, though, has always been the front-runner for Hammond’s athletic future, and he said he has been in contact with CU assistant coach Mike Rohn for years. The newest Buffs commit is set to join a long line of Colorado recruits under Boyle that includes former players Josh Scott, Wesley Gordon, Xavier Talton, Derrick White, Dom Collier, and Daylen Kountz, in addition to current Buffs like Schwartz, Dallas Walton, Dominique Clifford, and Luke O’Brien.
“Even though next year we’re going to have maybe a younger team next year, that’s fine, because we’ll have years to be together and get to grow as a team and not be constantly losing pieces,” Hammond said. “I just knew that if I got the opportunity to play there (at CU), I’d go there over whatever schools I had. I grew up here and I’ve seen how they’ve built up something good. I think I’ve got to be a better ball-handler, get stronger, and expand my range a little bit further. I think those things will help me get on the court as much as I can.”