Joshua Ola-Joseph, a 6-foot-6, 210-pound 2022 forward, committed to Minnesota Monday after taking his official visit this past weekend. Ola-Joseph is the third commitment from the Class of 2022 for new Gopher head coach Ben Johnson, all from the state of Minnesota.
Ola-Joseph averaged 16.7 points per game this past season at Osseo, 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.
Ola-Joseph had a strong spring and summer with the D1 Minnesota AAU program.
GopherHole caught up with Ola-Joseph Tuesday to learn the latest on his decision to commit to Minnesota.
GopherHole: You committed to Minnesota Monday after taking your official visit this past weekend. What were the main factors in you deciding to becoming a Gopher?
Joshua Ola-Joseph: Staying home with a new coaching staff. Ben Johnson is a big reason. He coached a lot of good players at Xavier.
GopherHole: What has been the reaction from your friends and family since you committed?
Joshua Ola-Joseph: Not a lot of people thought I was going to stay home. Everybody was surprised. They could see me leaving the state, but I felt it was the best decision. My parents really liked it, because it is so close to home.
GopherHole: I know that you just committed, but do you feel a bit of weight lifted off your shoulders already?
Joshua Ola-Joseph: Yes. I can just focus on getting better and academics, so you could say that.
GopherHole: Had you planned committing before the school season or had you really thought that far? Or was it obvious that Minnesota was where you wanted to be?
Joshua Ola-Joseph: I wanted to commit before school started, so I wouldn’t have to worry about the recruitment process.
GopherHole: You had some good choices with Loyola and Clemson in your final three besides Minnesota. How hard was it to say no to them?
Joshua Ola-Joseph: It was really tough. They are both really good programs. Loyola is a winning program. They have a lot of respect around their name, so it was really tough to turn down Loyola. Clemson is a very good program. They put a lot of money into their facilities, so it was tough to turn down those schools, but I also felt that Minnesota was the best fit for me, personally as well as a player. I felt that Minnesota was the best fit for me.
GopherHole: What was the reaction from the Gopher coaches when you committed?
Joshua Ola-Joseph: They seemed pretty surprised because I was hesitant about it. I was thinking about it and thought “I’m just going to commit,” towards the end of the official visit, so everybody jumped up. They were surprised. They were happy. They gave me and my parents hugs.
GopherHole: You actually committed Sunday, but announced it yesterday. Was it hard to keep that secret for almost a day?
Joshua Ola-Joseph: Yes, it was slowly getting out. That’s why my AAU coach Jay Fuhrman wanted me to get it out a little earlier than later, so we wouldn’t ruin the surprise.
GopherHole: What was your official visit like? What all did you get a chance to see and do?
Joshua Ola-Joseph: Pretty much everything. I got to see the campus. I talked to the athletic director. Talked to a lot of people. Talked to the football coach who walked us through the football stadium. They let me shoot in Williams Arena, so that was a big thing. Yes, that was one of the big things, to let me shoot in Williams Arena.
GopherHole: Had you been to many games at Williams Arena before?
Joshua Ola-Joseph: Never been to a Gopher game.
GopherHole: Do you watch them on TV a lot?
Joshua Ola-Joseph: Now, I do.
GopherHole: But, before?
Joshua Ola-Joseph: I’ve never been a big Gopher fan.
GopherHole: What did they do to get you to become a Gopher fan?
Joshua Ola-Joseph: It just felt like the best fit for me. I’m always a believer of, it doesn’t matter what college you go to. It matters what you do there, so I felt that I would make the biggest impact on that team. I want to play and I want to win games, so I feel that I can bring that winning culture to Minnesota.
GopherHole: When I interviewed you for the first time back in May, you didn’t even have a scholarship offer. If I had told you three months later that you would have committed to a Big Ten school, the home state school, what would you have thought?
Joshua Ola-Joseph: I would have believed it. I have always had confidence in my game. I put in the work. I knew that I was a high major player. I knew that I would go to a school where I had options. I had options to go to a school, but I just feel that the COVID season messed it up. I had the utmost confidence in my game. Jay always had confidence in my game and it was just a matter of time, just playing in front of the coaches.
GopherHole: Now that you have got this done, what things are you going to be working on to get ready for not only a big senior season, but for college?
Joshua Ola-Joseph: I want a mature game. I want to be mentally strong. Shoot the ball confidently. Have tight handles. I want to be a mismatch. I want no big to be able to guard me on the perimeter and no wing or no guard to be able to guard me on the inside, so I want to be a mismatch in the Big Ten. Not a lot of people in the Big Ten are freakish athletes. They are just very physical, so if I can get my body and my game to the next level, I’ll be a mismatch, right from the jump.
GopherHole: I know that a lot of recruits are talking about the Name, Image and Likeness. Have you thought about how that might have an impact on you since you’re from this area?
Joshua Ola-Joseph: Yes. I know that isn’t going to be too hard for me because I am staying home. Being from the state is going to mean something. Things can come to me rather than me looking for it.
GopherHole: What is it going to mean to you, now that you have seen Williams Arena, to walk on the court your first college game as a freshman in a little more than a year?
Joshua Ola-Joseph: I’ll just be thinking that I want to win. I wouldn’t be thinking that much about the facility. I want to bring a winning culture to Minnesota and I feel like I can do that.
GopherHole: You have two other kids that are Minnesota commitments in Braeden Carrington and Pharrel Payne. They said that they were working on you a little bit to get you to come with them. What have you heard from them since you committed?
Joshua Ola-Joseph: I just saw that they wanted to recruit me. That they wanted me to play, but that was not really a deciding factor for me. I just felt that Minnesota was a good spot for me and that’s why I choose it, but it is also nice to play with some intown kids.
GopherHole: Is there anyone that you are working on now to come to Minnesota?
Joshua Ola-Joseph: I might. Maybe.
GopherHole: Anybody I know or local?
Joshua Ola-Joseph: Some out-of-state kids.
GopherHole: Your sister is a student at Minnesota. What does she tell you about the University of Minnesota?
Joshua Ola-Joseph: The academics are through the roof. She’s an academic person, not an athlete, so she can tell me about the academic standpoint and the resources they have. She said they have the best academics and I can major in anything I want. They have like 150 majors. They have a lot of connections there. I’ll be taken care of.
GopherHole: Have you thought about a college major yet?
Joshua Ola-Joseph: I have a lot of ideas, but I really haven’t thought about it. I am going to take some time and talk to my family and figure it out sooner or later.