Pro Insight Q&A Series
For the next installment of the Q&A series, Pro Insight presents Josh Christopher, a five-star player in the 2020 class, from Lakewood, CA:
Pro Insight: You just finished your junior year of hoops at Mayfair Let’s talk about your season a little bit – what were your biggest takeaways from this year?
Josh Christopher: my biggest takeaway from this year was probably just finally winning with the guys that I’ve been playing with for the last three years. There were a lot of seniors on our team, so finally getting over the hump and winning a championship – you know, I’ve been saying I want a ring on my finger since my eight-grade year at Mayfair Middle School – so finally accomplishing that has definitely been the biggest achievement of my high school career.
PI: You won several 2018-19 awards, including Dream Team Player of the Year – which means the most to you and why?
JC: I don’t know – I haven’t really paid attention to a lot of those individual accolades. I’m grateful for all of them, but as a whole, us winning CIF means more than any other award and that’s what I’m most proud of. I’ll never forget that feeling. In the beginning of our championship game, my one-two punch guy Mikey (Ofoegbu) was snapping, he was going off. He had like 12 in the first six minutes of the game and he was our MVP. The run we made to get that ring means more to me than any individual accolades.
PI: Out of all the guys you matched up with this year, who was the toughest?
JC: I can’t pinpoint a person, but I would for sure have to mention the whole Sierra Canyon and Mater Dei basketball teams – both teams definitely gave me the toughest time this year, sending two or three guys at me, making it really tough for me to score the ball.
PI: Describe your game – what are your greatest strengths and biggest areas for improvement? What’s the most underrated aspect of your game?
JC: I think my biggest strengths are for sure putting the ball in the basket, drawing defenders and finding open teammates. I’ve been working on my point guard ability, so I’ve been doing really well lately at finding my teammates, hitting them in the right spots, creating easy baskets. I’d say my biggest areas for improvement are for sure consistency on the perimeter, my defense and my overall motor. The most underrated aspect of my game is for sure my passing – I’m pretty sure it’s going to pop off and people will notice it this spring and summer, but right now it’s the most underrated part of my game. (*editor’s note: Josh was fifth overall in assists during the first EYBL session in Atlanta, so it’s safe to say his passing ability won't be underrated for long)
PI: Your older brother Patrick was quite the athlete, himself. What has he instilled in you over the years?
JC: He’s just instilled in me the importance of enjoying the game and its purity – just to have fun with the game before it comes a job. He’s taught me to trust the process. He’s also taught me to just be simple – cut out all the extra stuff I don’t need in my game and to just keep things simple.
PI: Three years down, one to go. What are your main goals you want to accomplish before your high school career is over?
JC: This past season, I feel like I fell just short of winning Gatorade National Player of the Year – that’s one accolade I felt I deserved, but didn’t get, so that’s for sure an award I’ll be going after and expecting after next year. I would love to win another state title, too.
PI: Why do you wear number 13? Is there a story behind that?
JC: That’s crazy that you asked that (laughs). So, my freshman year, I had the last pick when choosing our jersey numbers. I had to choose between 42, 21 and 13. I thought 13 looked the best on me out of all those, so I just went with it. It’s done a lot of good things for me, so I’m going to keep running with it.
PI: How has your experience been with USA Basketball over the past couple of years? You’ve participated multiple Junior National Team Minicamps as well as U17 training camp, last summer – what has all that been like?
JC: In high school, it’s not every day you get to step out on the floor with four other basketball players that are all in the top-10 – you just don’t see that often – it’s a rarity. The only time that really ever happens is with USA Basketball. So, just being able to play with guys of that caliber that are just as good as myself, building relationships with them and stuff like that, that’s what it’s all about. Just having the opportunity to travel across the globe and play for your country, I think that means a lot as well.
PI: Your most recent USA Basketball experience took you to the Final Four in Minneapolis where you got to play against a lot of the top players from the NBA Global Academies – how did that event go?
JC: It was really cool. Playing all of the academies kind of gave you the feeling of traveling around the world to different countries. We were playing against Latin America, Africa, China, and just getting after it – everybody was representing their part of the globe.
PI: Which players have stood out to you or impressed you the most during your time with USAB?
JC: I’m always impressed with B.J. Boston. I’m also always impressed with Sharife Cooper – I think he’s really starting to make a name for himself with all the awards he got this year and leading his team to state. Jalen Green – we’re both from California and that’s like my brother – we’re always competing and talking trash. I’ve always been impressed with his game and what he does on the court. There are definitely more guys, but those are just off the top of my head.
PI: What are your goals on the EYBL circuit, this spring?
JC: To win Peach Jam. I think we have the best team on the circuit, right now. I think going to Peach Jam and winning it would be a huge stamp on my high school career.
PI: You have some time to figure it out, but down the line as you prepare to make your college decision, what are some of the top things you’re looking for in a school?
JC: For sure a coach that understands that I want to play in the NBA someday, so someone that can respect that. A coach that’s going to let me be the best Josh Christopher – so whether that’s being in a spot where I can score the ball, or being in a position where I can make others better, I need to be in a place that can help me be the best version of myself.
PI: Name 4 words that best describe you.
JC: Creative. Funny. Lighthearted. Unique.
PI: Do you watch more college or NBA basketball? What are you looking for and what are your biggest takeaways when you watch?
JC: This year, I got so caught up in my own season and working out – this year has been the most that I’ve worked out in my life. Everything has just been focused on that. I would try to catch up on highlights on YouTube, or focus in on certain players like Paul George, but I didn’t watch too much college until the NCAA Tournament. I’ve been keeping up with the NBA Playoffs, as well.
PI: When you do watch hoops, can you share a little about what you’re specifically looking for as a student of the game?
JC: As a scorer, I just look for ways that the high-level NBA scorers put the ball in the basket and just try to pick up on the easy ways they score or draw fouls. It helps make the game simple, for me.
PI: What type of system best fits your playing style?
JC: I think all my life I’ve liked to get out and go. I’m a guy that likes to get out and run a fast break and make things happen – so I think a system that wants to get the ball and push it is the system for me.
PI: College or pro, current or former player – do you model your game after anyone?
JC: People always tell me Dwyane Wade – I get that one a lot. I like that comparison. I get Paul George every once in a while, but he’s like a foot taller than me. And of course, some people say Swaggy P and compare me to Nick Young.
PI: Which position do you view yourself as?
JC: I think I’m a combo guard. I can get out on the wing a little bit, but watching the NBA, those 2-guards are like 6’6-6’7. I’m like 6’4, pushing 6’5 right now. If I could play the 1 and then play some undersized shooting guard – depending on if I grow, or not – I think I could be a combo guard, for sure. And I feel like I can guard any position you need me to guard.
PI: Please explain what Josh Christopher brings to a team, regardless of the situation – name some things on the court and some things off the court.
JC: On the court, I want to win more than anyone else that’s out there. I don’t take losses very well. I like winning, but I hate losing more. It really gets to me. Off the court, I think I just keep everything fun. I feel like I’m that guy that keeps the peace between people and someone that just rights the ship when things aren’t going right.
PI: What has been a defining moment or story in your life? Why has that stuck with you and what did you learn from it?
JC: Looking back, the love I have for the game sticks out more than anything. I think the overall story that could probably best explain that is when we were living in Lancaster, California – me and my brother, Caleb, would walk to a 24-hour Fitness about an hour-and-a-half away. We would pack our stuff up, bring some money and an extra set of clothes, and we would just stay in the gym until about 3 A.M. Just working on our games. We would do that often. I’m a gym rat, man.
PI: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
JC: Probably just to “enjoy the game,” honestly. My dad always tells me “it’s just basketball.” I think that relieves pressure and relieves tension when things are getting crazy. Whether it’s recruitment, or social media, or whatever – remembering that it’s just a game and that I need to enjoy it is probably the best advice I’ve ever received.
PI: What, or who, would you say is your biggest motivation in life?
JC: My whole family is my biggest motivation. We aren’t the richest family here, or anything like that, so I feel like I could help change our lives – just putting food on the table, buying my mom and dad a new house, buying my grandma a new Lexus, just stuff like that. What motivates me the most is being able to help others around me, someday.
PI: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
JC: 10 years from now, I see myself close to the prime of my basketball career, an all-star in the NBA and hopefully an NBA champion, as well.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you want to be remembered for?
JC: I want to be remembered for being the best me, honestly. We all know I play basketball and that I’m in to fashion, and stuff and that’s great, but there’s more to me than that. Basketball does things for you, but there’s more to life. My message is bigger than that: I just want people to know that it’s ok to be yourself.