For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present Josh Hall, from Durham, North Carolina:
Pro Insight: What did you learn about yourself and how did you grow from the Oak Hill experience?
Josh Hall: I learned that, you know, being in the right setting can really take you a long way. I really feel like the whole Oak Hill thing was really a blessing for me. I saw what it took to be a top player in the nation. I saw some guys that didn’t have the work ethic and also saw the ones that did - it’s a choice that you make...you either want to be satisfied with good or you decide to take your game to the next level. So I just look at that whole experience as a blessing.
PI: That’s a mature mindset. What motivates you to pursue that path?
JH: Just seeing my mom work. I mean, I don’t want her to struggle no more. I’m doing this for her. Also, I see other people who may not have as much talent as me, but they put in the work and they’re in the league right now...I feel like if I put in the work, combined with my natural talent, I feel like I can do something special.
PI: Back to Oak Hill for a second. Did you feel you deserved to play with the national team, there?
JH: My first year, I feel like I didn’t deserve it. He picks the guys he wants. I didn’t fit that mold. I’m okay with that. Now, I feel like I’ve grown into my body more. I’m filling out and getting stronger. I’m playing with a lot more confidence.
PI: When you came to Moravian, what was your mindset?
JH: I didn’t know what to expect. Last year was the first year of the high school. I had D-1 offers, and I just wanted to get better. If I didn’t get bigger or stronger, then I wouldn’t be able to step in and make an impact in college right away.
PI: What have you focused on most, both from a skill development standpoint and physically over the last year?
JH: I’ve focused on my ball-handling and my decision making. I see people like Giannis Antetokounmpo at 6’10” and playing point guard. The NBA is more positionless basketball. I feel like you can play more if you don’t have a position. That’s what I’ve been focusing on. Also, the weight room and eating right to help me put on weight the best way possible so my body won’t break down. I’ve changed my approach in the weight room. When I was younger, I took reps off. Now I know I’ve got to push through. I do cleans, squats, bench press, front squats. Everything.
PI: Has the experience at Moravian, which tends to focus on breeding toughness and competition, transformed your game? Was it needed?
JH: When I first came, I took plays off. They told me about it, and said it was going to take some time. Before, I would score 20 points and get like 3 rebounds. They’ve taught me to crash the offensive glass and be more active on the court.
PI: Your father was more of a traditional big man. How did he help to develop your game? What advice has he given you about the recruiting process?
JH: He’s helped develop my game a lot. He said he doesn’t want me to have to rely on other players to get me the ball like he did as a big. He wants me to be able to push it and make the best play possible. That was a blessing for him to share that with me. With recruiting, he said to take it slow. I make the decision. If I feel like the decision is best for me, he supports my decision 100%.
PI: What types of players do you need to get better at defending?
JH: I’ve got to get better at defending in all aspects. I tend to guard shorter, quicker people in practice. So I have to stay low and use my length at all times.
PI: What position do you prefer to play?
JH: 2 or 3. I feel comfortable guarding the 2, 3, and 4.
PI: What are your long-term goals?
JH: I want to play in the NBA, of course. I don’t want to just get there, though. I want to stick. I also want to start a clothing business for tall people, because I know how hard it is for tall people to find clothes.
PI: What about short-term goals?
JH: I want to hit 210 in body weight. That’s the short term goal. I’m 195 right now.
PI: Which players did you model your game after as a young player?
JH: Jayson Tatum, Brandon Ingram, Paul George, and Kevin Durant.
PI: Now that you've begun to get some buzz or notice, how do you fight through that to make sure you're not satisfied and can achieve your long-term goals?
JH: Seeing the people who came before and maybe got a big head. Where I’m from, people don’t get this chance, so every time I go home, I try to pull a young person to the side and tell them that if this is happening for me, it can happen for you. I basically want to spread positivity throughout the city.
PI: What do you need to work on most, in order to prepare for the NBA?
JH: Ball handling, staying low, and being able to defend multiple positions.
PI: How do you try to distinguish yourself from some of the other top players in the class of 2020?
JH: I know some guys have a lot of athleticism. I try to mix up my game and do things that pros can do. Shoot from deep range. Take what the defense gives me. Not everyone in high school is 6’8” or taller. I try to work on my game in multiple ways on the court.
PI: How has playing with Shakeel Moore helped push both of you?
JH: This is different for him. Before he came here, he had to rely on himself. Now he has someone else he can rely on. It’s a trust and chemistry thing. It’s starting to get a whole lot better than it was before. The first night we worked out here, we had a 5 on 5 scrimmage. Me and Shakeel were on the same team and we lost every game. There were would be plays where we’d take turns taking shots. The other team was playing as a cohesive unit. One of the coaches pointed out that we couldn’t win that way, and we trusted each other a whole lot more.
PI: What does he do best?
JH: He attacks the rim. His decision making is getting a whole lot better too.
PI: Your mother is an attorney. How has she helped shape your life? What aspects of your personality or drive do you get from her?
JH: Just seeing her hard work. She paid a lot of money for me to go to Oak Hill and has made big sacrifices to get to where she is. I get my hard work and my determination from her. Also, how I interact with other people.
PI: What about from your dad?
JH: My joy. He’s also very active with people, and I feel like get that from both of them.
PI: Name four words that best describe you.
JH: Unique is one that I can think of.
PI: Talk about your love for the game of basketball.
JH: You can see it when I play. It’s changed my life in so many ways these last few months and through my whole life. There isn’t any going back at this point.
PI: What is Josh Hall bringing to the table every day on the court and off the court?
JH: A positive outlook. Leadership. Being a kind person.
PI: What did you gain from the experience of being around players like Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum? Has it helped motivate or focus you? What advice has Harry given to you?
JH: A lot. I see their work ethic. I see how well they take care of their bodies. They ice after workouts. A lot of people don’t understand that when they’re young. You really have to take care of your body. I seek advice from them on what they do and what they see top players do. There’s a lot of good players in the league and one or two stars on each team. They all have the same 24 hours every day. It has helped motivate me and focus me. Harry has told me to stay ready, keep working hard, and he gives me things in the weight room that they do in the league.
PI: Outside of basketball, what are some things that you'd like the audience to know about you as a person?
JH: I don’t really do too much. I like watching old basketball movies like ‘Blue Chips.’ I like watching basketball highlights on YouTube to see how good players are successful.
PI: Who is your favorite player and why?
JH: Penny Hardaway. He was a 6’7” point guard back in the day. I watched his old highlights and he did so much in so little time with injuries. He could have been the best player ever. His court vision and how free he played, I really enjoyed that.
PI: Whenever you make your college decision, what do you think it will come down to? What are the important factors for you?
JH: How well I mesh with the coaching staff. My parents too. I don’t want to play for someone who stops contacting me after I commit or they don’t really care. A lot of colleges will sell you dreams and say things just to get you on campus. The want to go wherever it’s the best fit for us.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you want to be remembered for?
JH: If I do get a chance to play in the NBA, I want to get a chance to help people out. If you do that, a whole lot more can come out of it.