Canadian Import Joseph catching Terps' eyes

Kris Joseph has only been in the United States for a few months, but it hasn't taken him long to make a name for himself. The junior import from Montreal, Quebec, arrived in the nation's capital this fall with his sights set on proving himself against some of the world's toughest high-school competition, and that's precisely what he's done.

Joseph, a 6-foot-6, 215-pound small forward at Archbishop Carroll (D.C.) High School, is averaging 16 points per game an attracting college recruiters from across the country. He recently received verbal scholarship offers from Georgetown and Clemson, and he may be close to receiving one from Maryland.

Arizona State and head coach Herb Sendek, who was recruiting Joseph last year while Sendek was at N.C. State and Joseph was in Canada, remains in hot pursuit. And Gonzaga has been onto him for some time now.

The versatile 17-year-old is a classic small forward prospect. He bounces up off the floor very quickly, has good speed and excellent ball-handling skills for his size, and he rebounds well in traffic. Assistant coaches from Maryland and Syracuse were in attendance Friday night as Joseph scored 19 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in a loss to Gonzaga Prep.

Joseph, whose brother, Maurice, plays basketball for Michigan State, led Quebec to a Silver finish in the Canada games two years ago. He'd grown from 5-10 to 6-6 in a three-year span and was dominating his competition, so he decided it was time to head south in search of brawnier challenges.

"I wanted to play in the U.S. for a long time. I had a lot of opportunities, but it just never worked out," Joseph explained.

Through a chance coincidence that involved his brother's personal trainer having a friendship with Carroll's athletic director, he wound up at the D.C. private school, which has produced players such as Lawrence Moten and John Thompson and plays in the ultra-competitive Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.

"The city's not that much different, so I'm not having that much time adjusting. We have metro transportation [in Quebec] just like here, and most of the food is the same," said Joseph, whose family originally hails from Trinidad and Tobago. "From a basketball point of view, in Montreal there aren't many other 6-7, 215 pound players. Here, everybody's as good as you."

That hasn't truly been the case, though, as Joseph has been dominant at times. But perhaps his biggest area for improvement would be in the consistency department; he doesn't appear to be going full-force 100 percent of the time. He was invisible in the first-half against Gonzaga, scoring two points, and then took over at the start of the second half, scoring nine points in less than two minutes to carry his team back into the game.

"I want to work on my consistency, my perimeter jumpshot, my quickness and strength," said Joseph, who has a lean build and could stand to add another 15 pounds of before he heads to college in the fall of 2008.

It's a bit difficult to get a perfect read on Joseph, who, as a child, learned to play by shooting balls into trashcans with friends until the neighborhood park finally put up a hoop. He's the tallest player on an undersized Carroll team, one that must content with WCAC big men such as DeMatha's Chris Braswell (Georgetown) and Jerai Grant (Clemson), St, Mary's Ryken's John Flowers (West Virginia), Paul VI's Vlad Moldoveanu (George Mason), and Bishop O'Connell's Frank Ben-Eze (offer from Maryland).

That has limited his ability to create scoring chances for himself, as he's been playing with his back to the basket for the first time in his life. But he's taking it in stride.

"I play wherever my coach tells me to play," he said.

As for his college decision, Joseph is hoping to have it out of the way before the start of his senior year.

"I'm really looking forward to the process being over," he said,

He recently attended a Georgetown game and likes the Hoyas very much. He went to the Terps' game against Siena earlier this season, too, and has good things to say about the program.

"I like Maryland's program. They have a good team and a good system. I like the way they play," said Joseph, who believes the Terps may be close to offering a scholarship.

He's also visiting George Mason this weekend and is hoping to receive interest from Michigan State so that he can play with his brother ("It would be just like old times") but the Spartans might be overbooked at his position.

As for Maryland, the staff will have to determine their course of action in terms of doling the relatively small number of scholarships available for the next few years between a very strong crop of young local talents who has featured and on which we will continue to focus.

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