Aug. 30, 2021: Ben Johnson’s first full recruiting class as head coach continues to grow, adding Osseo forward Joshua Ola-Joseph to the fold.
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Everyone who prematurely complained saying, “We hired Ben Johnson for his recruiting, and this is what he’s done,” is pretty quiet right now. 2022 Osseo forward Joshua Ola-Joseph joins Park Center guard Braeden Carrington and Park of Cottage Grove big man Pharrel Payne as the first three Minnesota recruits to commit to the Gophers in the Ben Johnson era. Ola-Joseph, a 6-foot-6-inch forward chose his hometown Gophers over top offers from Loyola-Chicago, Clemson, Colorado State and New Mexico. A future trio of Carrington, Payne and Ola-Joseph is a great step in the right direction for Minnesota Golden Gophers basketball.
Who is Joshua Ola-Joesph?:
Joshua Ola-Joseph is a senior student-athlete at Osseo High School. He plays his AAU ball for local powerhouse D1 Minnesota. Much like his soon-to-be teammate Pharrel Payne, Ola-Joseph is a player that has quickly risen up the recruiting ranks. He might not have the number of stars as other players, but this man is a pure basketball player. Standing at 6-foot-6, he has the length and positional versatility to guard one through five, and even likely play two through four on the offensive end. He has previously referred to himself as “position-less” and I think he is about as close as you can get to the term.
Last season as a junior for the Orioles, Ola-Joseph averaged 16.7 points per game while shooting 57.6% from the field. He is a very versatile player with a great overall feel for the game and a great motor. He has all of the intangibles to be the type of player who rapidly improves once in the Gophers system, to become a serious contributor at the Big Ten level. He has a very smooth jumper and the range to consistently knock down threes. Joshua Ola-Joseph is the exact type of player that Ben Johnson needs to add as he fills out his 2022 recruiting class and beyond.
Joshua Ola-Joseph is another puzzle piece to a terrific 2022 recruiting class for Ben Johnson and the Gophers. No to re-hash the same points I mentioned in my Pharrel Payne commitment story, but these are the type of players that Minnesota needs to sign. The new trio of 2022 Gophers commits has a scoring guard with Braeden Carrington a versatile big man with Pharrel Payne and a versatile wing with Joshua Ola-Joseph. As a fan, I don’t think there is any more you can ask for when it comes to building the foundation of a rebuilding program. All three players are from Minnesota, but most importantly want to play for the Gophers. There is a chance that the Gophers will miss out on each of the top six Minnesota players in the class of 2022, but instead of looking at that, you should be excited with who they will have. Joshua Ola-Joseph is the third piece to a trio of players who can flat out hoop.
What is Next:
There is no sugarcoating that the 2021-22 Gophers basketball season might not be pretty. With injuries and roster turnover, it would honestly be a bit unrealistic to expect otherwise. But what I have been impressed with is, that you can clearly tell Ben Johnson and his staff has a plan, they have a direction of how they want to build this program and they’re following it. The potential eight-man rotation that the Gophers will have for the 2022-23 season has me excited.
SG: Abdoulaye Thiam
SF: Jamison Battle/Joshua Ola-Joseph
PF: Parker Fox/Isaiah Ihnen
C: Treyton Thompson/Pharrel Payne
It might not be at the level of a Big Ten regular-season title-winning team, but this is a team that would have more than enough talent to make noise in the postseason and be very competitive within the conference. As for filling out the rest of the 2022 recruiting class, Byron’s Ahjany Lee would likely be the most realistic MN name to sign with Minnesota, but Hopkins’ Elvis Nnaji, Minneapolis North’s Willie Wilson and Minnehaha Academy’s Prince Aligbe also technically hold offers from the school. There are 25 more uncommitted players from out of state that hold an offer from the Gophers, so I would imagine that the 2022 class is far from being finalized.