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Billings Skyview grad Julius Mims elevating rebuilt Idaho Vandals

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Julius Mims Idaho
Posted at 2:03 PM, Nov 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-27 18:09:36-05

MOSCOW, Idaho — One of the first boxes to check when enrolling at the University of Idaho is correctly pronouncing the town's name. Former Billings Skyview standout Julius Mims can attest.

“We’re not in Russia, that’s what people (here) say," Mims told MTN Sports with a laugh. "But yeah, Moscow (like ‘oh’), not Moscow.”

Mims' sense of humor is easily noticed. So are his basketball skills.

The former Falcon is making an instant impact for Idaho's basketball men leading the Vandals in scoring (11.0), total steals (nine) rebounding (7.3) and total blocks (seven) this season after transferring from North Idaho College where he spent three years developing (including a COVID-19 season of eligibility).

“I don’t think I was as ready as I could be out of high school,” Mims admitted.

Still, he was a standout player on Skyview's co-state championship team in 2020 as a first-team Class AA all-state selection, averaging 12.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots per game, but also admits being little bothered that his college hoops potential was overlooked by some.

“Yeah, I would say I had that little chip on my shoulder coming from Montana. Nobody really looked at me," he said. "I was just the high jumper coming out of high school.”

He could definitely high jump. Though COVID eliminated his senior year of track and field, Mims was a state champion high jumper winning the Class AA crown in 2019 with a leap of 6-9 after twice clearing 6-10 that season. He was later named the Montana Gatorade boys track and field athlete of the year.

That 6-9 mark happens to be his physical height these days. It's safe to say Mims has occasionally high jumped defenders to throw down a slam dunk.

“Yeah, I would say a handful of times, for sure,” he said with another laugh.

When the high jumper got to North Idaho chasing his basketball passion, coaches there got to work.

“They did an amazing job of turning my game into what it is today,” Mims said.

Mims most recently captured the Vandals' attention after averaging almost 17 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks a game last season. He led last year’s Cardinals to a 28-0 regular season, was named regional defensive player of the year and earned All-America honors.

Now possessing his bast basketball skills to date — plus his high jumping hops — new Vandal teammates aren’t shy about asking Mims what theatrics he might attempt on a breakaway.

“I can do a lot but I wouldn’t want to miss it. I need to make it count," he said. "I’ve contemplated doing the East Bay, going through the legs, but that’s a little too risky. Maybe if we’re up like 20, 30 (points).”

Mims is hoping to do it in front of an electrifying crowd inside Idaho’s freshly revitalized arena.

“It’s two years old, everything is just brand spanking new," he said in awe. "The paint smells brand new, the court smells brand new.”

That’s not all. Idaho’s men (3-3) are also nearly starting from scratch.

“Twelve of our 15 players are new and the whole coaching staff is new,” Mims said.

That doesn’t mean the Vandals want to spend time rebuilding. With the new-age transfer portal, teams that struggled a season ago are finding ways to win now. And "Juice," as he’s still known, is in position to help do it while quickly feeling at home.

“Moscow, it has my heart here and I’m ready to turn things around for sure,” Mims said.