You probably weren’t aware of it but at the NBA Draft last week in Brooklyn, New York was one nine-year-old Rockford girl.
It was hard to miss 6’10 Wendell Carter Jr. when Bulls picked him in first round of the 2018 NBA Draft, but one person who probably didn’t catch your eye was nine-year old Rockford resident Julyia Coates handing Carter Jr. his Bulls’ draft cap.
“When I found out I got to give the hat I was really excited!,” says Coates.
If you’re wondering how Juliya ended up in the Big Apple on draft night, there’s an easy answer. Coates is quite the basketball player herself. She was in New York to compete in the Jr. NBA Skills Challenge Championship. She earned the spot after winning the Chicago Regional Championship back in April.
So how did she do? “I think I did pretty good,” says Coates.
That’s an understatement. She did very well. She finished second in her age group in the entire country, but if you ask Coates she’ll say that wasn’t the highlight of her weekend. Other than her appearance on national TV on draft night Coates spent some time with some of this year’s draft picks on the basketball court.
“After the skills challenge we were practicing with them. DeAndre Ayton he kept blocking everybody’s shot,” says Coates.
“She was pretty excited,” says her mother Marie Coates. “Especially when she saw the basketball players she recognized because she had looked up like Trae Young, and DeAndre, so she saw them, and she was like, ‘Mommy look!’ so that was pretty cool.
Coates says the next time she finds herself in a draft room it won’t be to hand out a hat, but to put one on. She believes that one day she could be, “A WNBA All-Star.”