Kaleb Joseph commits to Syracuse
ESPN 100 point guard Kaleb Joseph (Nashua, N.H./Cushing Academy) made a verbal commitment to Syracuse on Saturday while on campus for an official visit.
Joseph, ranked the No. 51 overall prospect and No. 10 point guard in the ESPN 100, has seen wide-ranging, high-major recruitment throughout the last year but trimmed his list to just Syracuse, Providence and West Virginia after the July evaluation period.
He becomes the second elite prospect to commit to Syracuse in the Class of 2014, joining another New England prep school product in power forward Chris McCullough, a native of Bronx, N.Y., who attends Brewster Academy (N.H.) and is ranked No. 7 overall in the ESPN 100.
Joseph's commitment, combined with McCullough, moves Syracuse to No. 4 in the 2014 class rankings.
For Joseph, the opportunity to play at Syracuse was a dream come true.
"It's always been my dream school, and I just don't think there are many people who have the opportunity to do what they have dreamed about since they were young," Joseph said. "To work so hard for so long and then have God put the opportunity in front of me, it just felt right."
Nevertheless, this commitment still wasn't an easy one for Syracuse to win. Jim Boeheim and his staff followed Joseph throughout July with his Mass Rivals travel team and ultimately had to convince Joseph there was an important role for him despite the presence of Tyler Ennis, who will be just a year ahead of Joseph at Syracuse and is widely expected to be the team's starting point guard from Day One of his freshman season.
While the realization that both West Virginia and Providence had more immediate playing time to offer gave Joseph pause, it ultimately wasn't enough to make him say no to his dream school.
"I know of like the whole thing about Tyler, how everybody thinks I won't play," Joseph said.
"My whole basketball career I've always been the underdog," he added. "Not many basketball players come from New Hampshire to begin with. Everybody said I'd never get out of here. I like the underdog role. It keeps me grounded and motivated."
The reality is that even with Ennis in the fold, the point guard position was still one of Syracuse's top priorities in the 2014 class. Ennis will be the only true point guard on this year's Syracuse roster, meaning he and Joseph will be together in that role a year from now.
While Joseph is likely to see rotation minutes as the backup point guard as a freshman, his size and length will also allow him to share backcourt opportunities with Ennis at times.
That depth of talent in backcourt has become a calling card for Syracuse in recent years. Two years ago, the Orange thrived with a four-guard rotation that included Brandon Triche, Scoop Jardine, Dion Waiters and Michael Carter-Williams.
Waiters and Carter-Williams, who both had similar roots to Joseph in the New England prep school leagues, went on to become NBA lottery picks in consecutive years despite coming off the bench for that 2011-12 team.
That's a path Joseph hopes to follow.
"I've always dreamed of going to Syracuse, and I've always dreamed of playing in the NBA, and this is how I always envisioned it would happen," he said.