Kalani Brown and Von Julien could have chosen to just concentrate on basketball throughout their stellar careers at Salmen High School and Riverside Academy.
Their accolades and accomplishments on the hardwood would have been enough to probably satisfy them both.
Collectively, they won six basketball state championships (two for Brown and four for Julien).
They also were named by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association as the Most Outstanding Player in their respective classifications four times (three by Brown, one by Julien).
But Brown and Julien both decided to play more than just basketball.
Brown also starred in volleyball, while Julien made a big splash in football along with track and field.
For their accomplishments, Julien and Brown were named Male and Female High School Athletes of the Year by The New Orleans Advocate.
“With this award, like everything else in my career, I’m humbled by it,” said Brown, Salmen’s 6-foot-6 senior who was a finalist last year. “It’s good to know that all the hard work pays off.”
Julien, Riverside’s 6-1 point guard, said it wasn’t always easy juggling three sports.
“It was real tough,” Julien said. “I really couldn’t just focus on just one sport. During football, I would find time to go to the gym just to put some shots ups so I wouldn’t be rusty. I think (playing three sports) helped me a lot. I was able to pick which one I really wanted to do. It gave me more options. It would get tiring sometimes.”
But playing three sports didn’t seem to slow down Julien, whose coach Timmy Byrd called the engine that made the Rebels go.
He averaged 11.5 points and 9.3 assists to help Riverside go undefeated against Louisiana opponents on its way to a third consecutive Class 2A state title. Julien, who was named 2A Player of the Year as a sophomore, also won a state championship as an eighth-grader.
Julien also starred in football, where he was named co-MVP in District 8-2A.
Then for good measure, he competed in track and field and won the Class 2A title in the 200 meters.
“I was just doing track trying to stay in shape,” Julien said. “But then I started noticing I could win, so that’s when I really started competing.”
Julien also played baseball when he was younger, but gave that sport up.
Brown’s childhood days were busy as well.
She did everything from dancing, to piano, to horseback riding as a kid.
But she inherited a pair of basketball genes (her father, P.J., played in the NBA and her mother, Dee, played at Louisiana Tech) and she also had the size to make basketball an obvious choice.
She also played volleyball, earning all-district honors.
“Volleyball was something I picked up and it came easy to me, so I kept playing it,” Brown said. “I ended up really liking it.”
Basketball, however, is where she made her biggest mark.
She was named to the prestigious McDonald’s All American Game, considered one of the highest honors for a high school basketball player.
Brown won three state titles (freshman, sophomore and junior year) and got Salmen to the title game as a senior. She was named MVP of the title game, despite losing, after scoring 30 points and grabbing 23 rebounds.
Her other accolades include being named Louisiana’s Gatorade Player of the Year as a junior and Miss Basketball twice.
Both athletes will continue their athletic careers in college.
Brown is headed to Baylor.
Julien is staying closer to home, going to Tulane.
Both will play basketball only.
“I’ll miss playing all the other sports,” Julien said.
“But now I can concentrate on basketball. I’m looking forward to that.”