Saturday, August 17, 2013
Scout's take: Syracuse gets floor leader
By Dave Telep
Sometimes, these things just aren’t that complicated. Class of 2014 ESPN 100 point guard Kaleb Joseph (Nashua, N.H./Cushing Academy) is headed to Syracuse and the implication of his commitment is simple: Joseph is a good player and Syracuse coveted him.
The New Hampshire native will sign with his dream school. Last year, the Orange recruited Tyler Ennis to be their big gun at the point. Ennis will be in school a few years and is cut from the scoring-point guard mold. Joseph is more of a natural floor leader, a get-in-the-paint-and-pass-it type of lead guard. While there’s a good chance that one day Joseph could start for Syracuse, he’ll be the backup point in the immediate future. Syracuse is adding a guy who understands the big picture and has talent that is a big deal.
“I think there’s a lot of guys in that class who are good guards; most are combos,” said Vin Pastore, Joseph's AAU coach with the Mass Rivals. “They perceive him down the line to be a point guard, a pass-first guy. He’s a pass-first guy, and that’s Kaleb. Plus, Kaleb’s personality allows him not to have to play 30 minutes to be pleased. Everybody wants to play, but he won’t be a negative if his minutes aren’t 30. They recognize his character.”
What you have is a good player and smart kid fulfilling his dream. The on-court evaluation was important, but you can bet that behind the scenes Syracuse coveted him as much for his makeup as his talent. He fits the program. Nobody recognized that more than Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim.
You probably haven’t heard the Orange mentioned with many point guards in the 2014 class. They’re on ESPN 100 shooting guard Isaiah Whitehead, and while he prefers having the ball in his hands, he’s not a point. Syracuse was all-in for Joseph, making him a priority long before AAU season hit full swing.
“I think they made a commitment to him,” Pastore said. “With the names being thrown around [Isaiah Whitehead, Ja'Quan Newton] ... despite what the rankings or someone might say, [Syracuse said], ‘You’re the guy we want.’ The other guys are scoring guards.
“Jim Boeheim recruited Scott Hazelton, Noah Vonleh, Evan Smotrycz from me. I have never seen the guy show up at as many games for a guy as he did for Kaleb. He got to see him at every place, and that said a lot. They had a crew at all his games, but he showed up three different times [in July].”
On the court, the Orange added a point guard with speed. Joseph can get places. However, he has to tighten up his decision-making and eliminate, as Paul Biancardi likes to say, “emotional fogs.” This is a player who will grow into a bigger role every year in the program. While many of his Class of 2014 peers are in a rush and will forget to unpack their bags, Joseph won’t.