When it comes to Canadian talent, there isn’t anybody with a better finger on the pulse of grassroots basketball than Ro Russell. As the head of the Grassroots Canada summer program, Russell has coached plenty of talent including former Connecticut star Denham Brown. The latest star to emerge from Russell’s program is Devoe Joseph, a six-foot-three inch guard from Ajax (ON) Pickering just outside of Toronto.
Among Joseph’s four finalists are the Kansas Jayhawks. According to Russell, there was interest early, but things have really picked up during the past few months.
“Basically they had shown a lot of interest to him after his performances during April. At that time he was kind of concerned about the guards they had coming back next year,” Russell told Phog.Net. “We kind of temporarily parted ways but I kept in touch with Joe Dooley over the months. We got to talking again about a month and a half ago and we talked about how guys like Chalmers or Collins may leave along with Russell Robinson being a senior and Brandon Rush probably leaving and it showed that they would probably need a point guard.”
With their recruiting situation more clearly explained, the Jayhawks staff got in touch with Joseph to gauge his interest.
“They called Devoe and he sounded interested,” said Russell. “So Joe Dooley came up and they did a home visit with him. He liked what he heard about the program and the tradition.”
The Kansas coaches have continued to come back and it isn’t just because of Devoe. The Jayhawks have also begun recruiting Joseph’s younger brother Corey, a class of 2010 point guard.
“Coach Manning came up last week and really liked him a lot,” said Russell. “He really liked his younger brother Corey Joseph too. Corey is going to be one of the top point guards for the class of 2010.”
With a final four that includes Kansas, Minnesota, Vanderbilt and Virginia Tech, Joseph will begin his official visits this weekend. First up is Vandy followed by KU and then Minnesota and Virginia Tech. Playing time and the chance to win will be very important.
“Opportunity to play right away and the development of the program in terms of him getting stronger and being a better player is important,” said Russell. “Also very important is a winning program and a team that plays in the national tournament and has chance to play for the national championship. Devoe is used to playing for a winner and wants to do so in college too.”
While Joseph has had some exposure in the United States, he’s not nearly as well known as his American counterparts. Often listed as a shooting or combo guard, Russell says that his player has worked hard to become much more of a point guard and expects that he’ll play the point on the next level.
“He’s a very intelligent payer who can really shoot,” said Russell. “He’s really developed his ball handling skills since the summer so he can get around guys and make plays for others as well.”
At this point, Joseph will most likely make his decision upon the completion of his official visits. From the sounds of it, the visits could be the ultimate deciding factor as the schools look to separate themselves.
“It’s a very close battle right now between Kansas, Minnesota and Vanderbilt. Very close,” said Russell. “Virginia Tech is there too, but they are kind of behind those other three.”