Josh Reisman isn't your typical point guard, but then, Josh's life isn't very typical, either. Reisman is a very unique young man, an athletic basketball player, sometimes quiet, sometimes not, and an intelligent person with an enviable GPA. But it's what the long and winding road to Mount Vernon, WA, has taught him that gives Josh his real smarts.
The 2001 3A Player of the Year was born south of the border in Tijuana. At age three, his father left the family (Josh, his older brother Roger and their mother) and he hasn't seen him since. It would be the ultimate test with about as steep of a learning curve as one could imagine.
Years went by, as many as ten different schools came and went as Josh moved from one western state to another. Finally, he and his brother landed near Seattle in the Stanwood High School district. He lived with the former basketball coach there, a man who he credits to this day as being a big influence in his life. By now, about to end middle school, he knew he had a future in basketball. He tried soccer, he liked it and was "pretty good," but his love for hoops won out.
So, Josh transferred to where he could maximize his chances at success, to a high school and a coach renowned for great basketball: Coach Mac Fraser and the Mount Vernon Bulldogs. Huge success would come, but it wouldn't be easy.
During his sophomore season, while on varsity, his knee cap worked loose, an injury that hobbled him to the point that he finally had to stop running and jumping for months. The doctor said it could only heal, IF it healed at all, if Josh rested it and basically did nothing more than walk lightly. Slowly, his knee began to heal. The pain started to ease. And after a few months, Reisman was healthy once again.
His junior year, he split time with a senior point guard and helped lead Mount Vernon to the State 3A Championship game, only to lose by a couple points, their third loss of the season. They lost all three games by a total of five points. It would be the final loss of Josh Reisman's career.
Josh and his Mount Vernon powerhouse team's undefeated march to the State 3A Championship over Rainier Beach and the vaunted Stewart twins is well-documented. Reisman's point guard play was near-flawless. He took games over when he had to, including a stellar performance against eventual 4A champion Lincoln of Tacoma in the King Holiday Classic. His game was remarkably complete: scoring in an array of ways, timely assists, rebounding, aggressive defense, running the floor and directing the team. His attitude of going into games expecting nothing less than a win paid off. While players on opposing teams might be friends of his off court, they were the enemy on court.
Perhaps it was this confident attitude that had caught the attention of Gonzaga during his junior year. Besides the fact that Reisman is about as athletic as one can be, with a vertical of 40+ inches, standing 6'2" (in shoes) and a lean, muscular 165 pounds (looking forward to adding muscle and bulk), Josh has that "take no prisoners" mindset that is key to a great point guard.
Gonzaga wasn't the only school after Reisman. Virtually the entire WCC was on him and a few Pac-10's, along with a multitude of schools ranging from Navy and Air Force to Notre Dame and Mountain West schools to some Ivy Leagues. But Josh had been attending GU's summer basketball camp and had gotten to know the coaches here. And being a point guard, all he had to do was look at Gonzaga's history: Stockton, Hall, Santangelo, Dickau… The Zags offered Josh a scholarship in July of 2000. He didn't immediately say yes, thinking it would might be prudent to wait a while. But while playing in the Big-Time Tournament in Las Vegas, thoughts like, "What if another point guard accepts before me?," ran through his mind. Deep down he knew all along where he wanted to go. So shortly after, Josh became a future Gonzaga Bulldog.
Described as a "jumping jack," Reisman exploded during his senior year and Zag fans everywhere started comparing him to previous point guards at GU. Some thought he was a combination of Stockton-Dickau. People who watched him play described him as a Santangelo with attitude. Either way, GU was excited to have him, because more than anything he was a winner and was proving it in every way possible.
Josh says his drive (he feels he has to believe he is the best player on the court) to win and his will to win are his strengths, along with his athleticism. He was second on his team in three-point shooting, but he didn't attempt as many long shots, either. With his vertical jump, he is a good rebounder for his height. And he is a leader, never intimidated by another team or an opposing star player. After all, that's nothing compared to what he has faced head-on while growing up. Reisman thinks he needs to improve his consistency at being intense and aggressive during every single play. He knows these attributes are needed for 100% of the time at the level that Gonzaga is rising to.
Practicing and scrimmaging head-to-head with Wooden Candidate Dan Dickau for a year and against cat-quick All-American JC transfer Winston Brooks for two years, Josh feels like he'll be ready to lead Gonzaga when his time comes. It'll be tough but he likes a challenge and will never back down. He likes the idea of redshirting his freshman year, concentrating on raising his game to the next level. An avid weightlifter, he'll be new and improved by his redshirt freshman year.
While Reisman makes it clear that he's his own player and likes to walk his own path, the two guys he likes most at the highest level are opposites: John Stockton and Allen Iverson. He admires how each one gets their job done in such different ways. He sees himself in both players. Dan Dickau and Duke's Jason Williams are the two college players he admires most. And yes, Josh does have goals of playing pro.
When Josh Reisman isn't playing ball, he's with friends or his girlfriend, taking in movies or listening to R&B (Craig David) and Hip Hop (Corrupt). He hasn't chosen an academic field yet.
We came away feeling like the Zags had once again managed to steal a real gem to continue a long tradition of superb floor generals. The Zags will be in good hands for a long, long time.
Josh will be arriving on campus with his Mount Vernon team mate and friend Tyler Amaya who will walk on and redshirt.
Thanks for choosing Gonzaga, Josh.