NEVER SAY DIE

Hard work, determination pay off for Kris Joseph

By Arpon Basu

Originally Published in The Gazette, August 24, 2005

 

Wayne Gretzky had his backyard hockey rink, and Sidney Crosby fired pucks off his family's clothes dryer.

If Kris Joseph ever makes it to the world of big-time basketball, the story on the origins of his talents will begin with his garbage cans.

The 16-year-old Cote des Neiges native was a captain of the Quebec men's team that captured a silver medal at the Canada Games in Regina two weeks ago.

Joseph first picked up a basketball while in Grade 2, but there were no basketball nets set up in the school playground.

"We started off by shooting into garbage cans," Joseph recalled. "Then they got us a rim on the wall, then we finally got a court."

Joseph's introduction to organized basketball came soon afterward when he was 9 and began playing at Sun Youth.

After four years of playing on the mini and bantam teams, however, Joseph got cut in his first year of midget.

Much like Michael Jordan, who was cut from his high school varsity team the first time he tried out, Joseph used the slight as motivation to improve.

"He always won, but I was getting closer and closer," Kris Joseph says of pick-up hoops with older brother Maurice. (Courtesy: RICHARD ARLESS JR, THE GAZETTE) 

"As soon as I got cut, I started working on my outside game and my dribbling, and I just kept on working," Joseph said.

That period also corresponded with Joseph's growth spurt. When he got cut from Sun Youth, he was about 5-foot-10. Today, not even three years later, Joseph is conservatively listed at 6-foot-6 and still growing.

All the work on his ball-handling skills have made Joseph probably the most versatile player in the province, able to fill any spot on the floor.

Joseph also has had the advantage of living with a capable one-on-one partner, his older brother Maurice, who is about to start his freshman year at Michigan State.

The brothers pushed themselves by playing midnight games at the Kent Park courts.

"He always won, but I was getting closer and closer," the younger Joseph said.

Last December, Joseph was one of only three Quebec players invited to a national under-17 development camp, but the Canada Games was the biggest basketball moment of his life.

Joseph led the Quebec squad with a 20-point average and scored 30 on the powerful B.C. team in a preliminary-round overtime loss.

Quebec entered the tournament seeded fourth, but Joseph's 19 points in the semi-final led the team past third-ranked Saskatchewan, and he added another 19 points in a 73-63 loss to Ontario in the gold-medal game.

Joseph will play this season with the provincial elite program CPEQ before heading to Washington, D.C., next year to play at a prep school.

When asked if he hopes his older brother will put in a good word for him with the Michigan State coaches, Joseph was quick to reply, "No, I'll do it on my own."

Post date - August 26, 2005

 

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