Interview conducted by Chris Monter
Josh Ola-Joseph, a 6-foot-6 junior from Osseo (MN) High, has a strong spring with the D1 Minnesota AAU program.
Ola-Joseph averaged 16.7 points per game this past season, scoring in double figures in 18 of 20 games. He had five games of 20 or more points, including a season-best 30 versus Park Center.
Ola-Joseph averaged 13.5 points per game as a sophomore with a season-high of 36 points versus Coon Rapids.
GopherHole caught up with Ola-Joseph last Thursday after D1 Minnesota’s practice to learn more about his recruitment and upcoming senior season.
GopherHole: You have gotten off to a strong start, individually AAU-wise. How pleased were you with how well you’ve been playing so far this spring?
Josh Ola-Joseph: I think that I played pretty well, but I’m not satisfied. I can be more consistent, but overall, we grew a lot over these tournaments. We passed the ball well. We made quick shots. We play as a team, so I feel like we’ve grown.
GopherHole: You guys got off to a bit of a slow start in Chicago as you didn’t have everyone there, but played very well the past two tournaments. Are you starting to see how you guys can be one of the better teams in the area?
Josh Ola-Joseph: Every game, we get better, so we are just going to keep growing and by the time July when coaches can come watch, we are going to be a whole different team than what we are right now.
GopherHole: I know that is tough because you have teammates from all over the area, so it makes it tough to practice. Are you starting to see the chemistry getting better each tournament?
Josh Ola-Joseph: In Chicago, we played a lot of teams that started way earlier and that was our first tournament. We didn’t even play with half the guys on the team, so our chemistry is really building, friends on and off the court, so I feel like that is coming together to help our team.
GopherHole: How about this year at Osseo? I know that you had kind of an up and down season, but played extremely well against some of the better teams, like Champlin Park. You gave them a couple really tough contests. How pleased were you with your season this year?
Josh Ola-Joseph: I wasn’t pleased at all. I feel like we could have definitely made a state run and I definitely feel like we can make a state run this year. It was probably just inconsistency, making shots. Players remembering the plays, so I feel like by next year, we are going to grow.
GopherHole: How many starters are you going to have back next year?
Josh Ola-Joseph: I’m pretty sure that we have all starters back. We had all juniors last year.
GopherHole: Is that something you are looking forward to, because next year, you’ll be upperclassmen there and with having five returning starters, you are going to have a chance to be one of the better teams in the area?
Josh Ola-Joseph: Yes, definitely. Right now, I am really just worried about my recruitment, but I am definitely looking forward to winning a state championship or making a run for it.
GopherHole: In terms of recruitment, what offers do you have right now? (Note: Ola-Joseph picked up an offer from Cal Poly after this interview)
Josh Ola-Joseph: I don’t have any official offers, but I have been getting recruited from some schools liked Iowa State, Iowa, Butler reached out, NDSU, UND, SDSU, Northern Kentucky, Cal Poly a few other schools that I can’t really think of right now.
GopherHole: Is it kind of weird with college recruitment right now? I don’t know how much your coaches have told you about how things were pre-COVID, where you would have a lot of coaches at your games, your high school games and AAU games. This year, they can’t watch. Does that make it a little bit strange that you haven’t seen as many coaches as you probably would have in the past?
Josh Ola-Joseph: It is definitely harder because I know a lot of coaches I talk to, they want to come out and watch. They always mention coming out and watching in July, so I definitely feel like the offer process will blow up when they can actually see me face to face and watch how we play the game and the communication and see how play off and on the floor. How we react with our teammates and everything.
GopherHole: What are you up to height and weight-wise right now?
Josh Ola-Joseph: I’m 6-6, about 200 pounds.
GopherHole: What were you a year ago?
Josh Ola-Joseph: Probably 6-4, 180.
GopherHole: So you’ve grown quite a bit. Do you still think that you have the ability to get another inch or two? Have you talked to your doctors about that?
Josh Ola-Joseph: I definitely feel that I can. When I was younger, they estimated me to like 6-8 or 6-9. I definitely feel that I have a couple of more inches. I am trying to put on some muscle, put on a little weight, but still keep my leaping and agility and ability to run up and down the floor.
GopherHole: Do you come from an athletic family?
Josh Ola-Joseph: My mom and dad both ran track back when they were younger, but not basketball. Just track. I just feel in love with basketball when I was younger.
GopherHole: What was it about it that you loved?
Josh Ola-Joseph: My mom bought me a little hoop and I was just in the driveway every day, trying to get better. I love watching basketball.
GopherHole: Do you watch a lot of college basketball or pro?
Josh Ola-Joseph: I grew up watching NBA basketball, like Kobe and LeBron, but I started getting into college basketball, because I am going to be playing in college. It is an up and down pace. You don’t take a lot of shots in college, so your percentage has to be high. I am learning a lot, playing with Coach Jay (Fuhrman).
GopherHole: Do you watch certain teams or do you watch certain players when you watch college basketball?
Josh Ola-Joseph: Not really. In March Madness, I really watched pretty much every team.
GopherHole: Is there any players that were some of your favorites?
Josh Ola-Joseph: I would probably say (Jalen) Suggs. A hometown kid. Moves the ball really well. Fast. It’s interesting always watching him.
GopherHole: Obviously, he had a great season. When you are watching March Madness, does that get you excited about college basketball and thinking that could be you down the road?
Josh Ola-Joseph: It’s a big stage. It has always been a dream of me making the tournament or taking a team to the tournament. I love March Madness. It’s a different environment.
GopherHole: What are going to be the main things that you are going to be looking for when you pick a school?
Josh Ola-Joseph: Probably family, like being able to have a close relationship with the coach, on and off the floor. Being to be able to go up and talk to the coach. Understanding the plays. Understanding what our offense is like and stuff like that.
GopherHole: Have you thought much about a possible college major yet?
Josh Ola-Joseph: I haven’t thought or gone too deep into that, but I’m still looking at it.
GopherHole: Osseo has a great program and has produced a lot of players who have played Division I or Division II. Do you think that helps coming from a program that has produced a lot of good players at the next level?
Josh Ola-Joseph: Definitely. Coach Theisen, he understands a lot about recruitment. It’s not like a coach that probably hasn’t produced any D1 players. He understands a lot about it, so I’ll probably ask him for advice and what they are looking for and what they don’t like. Certain stuff to say to coaches and certain stuff not to say to coaches.
GopherHole: Any hobbies or things you like to do when you are away from basketball?
Josh Ola-Joseph: I’ll usually be in the gym, doing homework or playing a game.