As a junior, Josh Huestis did just about everything that a high school basketball player can do. The 6-foot-7 forward led Great Falls (Mont.) C.M. Russell to a class AA championship while earning All-State honors. During the summer, he wanted a new challenge and to prove himself worthy of attention from basketball programs at the highest level.
Suiting up with Dinos Trigonis' Belmont Shore program at events in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Huestis got what he was looking for.
"It was definitely a different experience coming from Montana," said Huestis. "The pace is a lot quicker and the athleticism is different. You see crazy athletes every day."
A lean and wiry forward who can play at the four or swing out to the wing and play the three, Huestis knew one area of his game that wouldn't let him down while playing against bigger, stronger and faster athletes than he's used to seeing in Montana.
"On defense, I take a lot of pride in my defense," said Huestis. "I try to make sure that I always keep my man in front of me. I try to block shots and contest shots."
Not only did Huestis defend, he rebounded at a high level and displayed more than enough athletic ability to hang with the nation's top players. He also adjusted offensively and feels like he's really rounding things out on that end of the floor.
"My shooting is starting to come along," said Huestis. "I'm still working on my ball handling too and I think those things are going to be strengths soon."
Primarily recruited by Montana, Montana State and Santa Clara headed into the summer, Huestis played to gyms filled with coaches watching his every move. A daunting task to say the least.
"I tried to block that out," Huestis told SC Playbook. "If you think about it too much it kind of gets in your head. So, I tried to act like nobody is over there. But, I still notice them. I try not to let myself get too nervous, though. The more nervous you get your game just goes down from there."
With his goal of proving himself against the nation's best achieved, Huestis is in no rush to make a decision. There's a chance that he could wait until the spring to sort things out. But, whenever he makes a decision, academics will be quite important.
"(Academics) will be a big factor," said the 4.0 student. "I can play basketball for only so long and I've got to have something to fall back on if that doesn't work out for me. Academics are huge for me. "