Steady, Versatile Juniel Pacing Brophy Basketball

It seems only fitting Brophy senior guard Xavier Juniel and head varsity basketball coach Matt Hooten were destined for one another long before they even met. Juniel was a student at Tres Rios Elementary in Tolleson, which happened to be in the same district Hooten started his teaching career after moving to the Valley back in 2004.

Some may simply call it destiny.

However you opt to coin the phrase the two have helped lead the Broncos to a perfect 11-0 start in late December . 

“He’s got such an incredible personality,” Hooten said to “He’s a leader for us and a lot of our guys really look up to him.”

Xavier Juniel action 1Juniel’s fellow student-athletes play off his selflessness and team-first mentality, which Hooten believes coincides with the fact that his versatile guard played football throughout his Brophy career, as well as competes in track.

“I’ve definitely gotten to know my teammates over the years, we’ve really stuck together,” Juniel said to “The chemistry is definitely there.” 

The steady playmaker, who gained valuable basketball experience after being elevated to varsity during his sophomore year, uses his skill-sets developed in both football and track to help elevate his game on the court.

“Coming from football, being able to body smaller [players] really helps,” he explained. “In track, I do triple-jump and I high jump so I can jump pretty high.”

Hooten believes Juniel has the unique ability to blend into a game and pick up any particular aspect needed at that particular. Whether it be scoring, rebounding, playing his usual sound defense he has “a feel” for what is the highest priority to ensure success.

While his top priority now is basketball, his future at the next level may be in football. “X”, as he’s affectionately known, has received interest from Eastern Washington, as well as offers from a number of Division II schools after catching 27 passes for nearly 500 yards and two touchdowns last fall.

Success at the next level seems destined to happen, much like what brought Juniel and Wooten together in central Phoenix.