The gaining popularity of basketball in recent decades has give a more international flavor to the game that found it's roots on American soil over 100 years ago. Now youngsters from all over the world are choosing the hardwood as the place to show off their talents. Those of them with the potential to be among the world's best know they'll eventually have to compete against the best to earn that distinction. That's the decision that Montreal Quebec wing Kris Joseph made before the start of his junior season. The talented youngster made the move to Washington D.C. over the summer with a plan to advance his game.
"Last year I sat down with my mom, my coach, and my trainer and we all thought it would be best for me to go somewhere where the skill level was the same or better than mine.," Joseph explained. "I'm 6-7 and this year at (Archbishop) Carroll I had to play the five because of my team's lack in size. At first I thought it was the worst thing possible (laughing). I couldn't believe that I was playing the five! But after a couple of games, I noticed that a lot of plays had the ball coming into the post. Then I just started looking at it as something I could add to my game for the next level. I felt like the more versatile I was, the better I'd be in college. I don't want to be a one-dimensional player. If I can add some post-up game to my skills, I figured it would be a good thing. My versatility allows me to play anywhere from one through five. My initial position is the three, but I played some point this year when our point guard got injured. I played the one for three or four games. I'm comfortable almost anywhere on the court."
Initially the thought of traveling so far away from home to play against youngsters that were considered some of the best in the country was a little daunting. But that feeling didn't last very long.
"I definitely thought it would be way different than what it was back in Montreal, but I figured basketball was basketball wherever you played it," said Joseph. "The competition was what I wanted to come here for. I wanted to play against the best guys in the nation. At Dematha you have Austin Freeman and then there's Chris Wright (at St. Johns). A lot of top ranked guys were playing in this conference. It was just a matter of getting stronger. A lot of guys were much stronger than I was at the start, but then I adjusted to that and everything was good."
"As a team we started off really strong, but then we kind of fell off because of the loss of our point guard," he continued. "It messed up the chemistry a little bit. We just fell apart a little bit at the end. We didn't finish as strong as we should have, but individually I think I exceeded my expectations. I did a little better than I expected to do because I knew the WCAC was being called by some people the best league on the east coast. I knew it was going to be hard and I knew it wasn't going to be a walk in the park, but I came in and did what my coach asked me to do. After to working out and working hard on individual stuff before practice and after practice, I was averaging 17 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists on the season."
One of the biggest proponents of Joseph's decision to challenge himself more was Michigan State wing Maurice Joseph. The Spartan reserve is Kris' older brother. He wants his younger sibling to have a smoother transition into college ball than he did.
"He thinks it was the best thing I could have done," Joseph said. "It's rare that you see a guy like myself in the league that I was playing in (in Montreal). It was too easy to the point where I didn't play hard enough. That didn't benefit me. He too had a say in my coming here. He thought it was a good idea and he thinks by doing this, when I get to the next level, I will be ahead of where he was."
College coaches obviously agree with big brother's assessment because after just a few months as an American high-schooler, Joseph is already garnering interest from some of the top programs in the country.
"A lot of schools have been by to see me," Joseph said. "Georgetown, George Mason, Clemson, Syracuse, Michigan, Texas… there's more I just can't remember them off the top of my head. I have three scholarship offers from Clemson, Syracuse, and Georgetown. Maryland said they would offer me, but it wasn't official yet. They made it clear to me that they want to offer though. My top five is Syracuse, Georgetown, Maryland, Texas and Michigan."
Stay tuned for part two, coming later, to find out where the Wolverines fit into Joseph's recruitment.