You have to go back to 2001 for when Mayfair High School last had a superstar basketball player. That was when former NBA player Josh Childress was named a McDonald’s High School All-American.
Almost two decades later, Josh Christopher is hoping to be the next one.
The 6-foot-4 junior guard has steadily climbed the rankings for the Class of 2020 over the past year. He’s become an elite shooting guard prospect with offers from 14 Division 1 schools so far.
Last month, Christopher was among 87 high school basketball players selected to participate in a two-day minicamp with personnel from Team USA Basketball. The program was part of an expansion in partnership with the NBA, NBAPA, and NCAA.
In addition to the usual on-court activities, players and their families were invited to off the court workshops geared towards guiding them to what lies ahead in terms of college recruitment and eventually the NBA.
“Being able to go across the country to play, to be able to be coached by top-notch guys before getting the season started, and getting to play against the best players in the country, it’s always good,” Christopher said about his Team USA experience. “It’s a lot of excitement before the season kicks off. Being able to just learn and play basketball, that’s what it was mostly about.”
Team USA camp wasn’t the only place Christopher went during the offseason to get better. He was a regular each weekend at the Drew League in Los Angeles, a summer pro-am that features many current and former NBA players as well as top overseas and college talent.
Christopher was one of a handful of high school players that suited up alongside grown men, having to adjust to a different brand of basketball.
“It kind of hit me in the mouth, I started the first game and I just kind of jumped straight into it. I didn’t have any warning, I just had to experience it right away,” Christopher said. “The guys are big, the lanes are clogged, so you have to just be smart and use your mind when you play with these guys.”
And it wasn’t just the high level of competition that Christopher was able to compete against in the summer. Major changes have been made to the high school basketball process in terms of preparing for college and ultimately the NBA.
As rumors abound that the NBA is getting ready to do away with its age limit for the draft, the league sanctioned a lot more high school basketball events than before. One such event that Christopher participated in was the Pangos All-American Camp at the beginning of June.
“It’s good just knowing that the level I’m trying to get to can now have their eyes on me,” Christopher said. “I think people will take the game a lot seriously now knowing that their goals and their dreams are right in front of their eyes.”
By now, his strengths are apparent. He’s an explosive scorer who is great in the open court. He routinely gets out on the fast break and can finish with authority around the rim. He can get past his defender with ease and attack. He can also step outside and knock down perimeter jumpers.
But that’s not all there is to his game. The highlight reels and the mixtapes show that part of his offensive package, but there’s another aspect to his game that Christopher has been working on. It’s a part of his game he believes will shine this upcoming season.
“I think it’s starting to come out, my ability to pass the ball. This past summer I demonstrated that running point guard, having to play along other wings at The Academy, during EYBL, and other events,” Christopher said. “I try to find ways to hit my teammates for open looks. I think my ability to create is underrated, so hopefully, people will look at that this year.”
— Dinos Trigonis (@trigonis30) June 7, 2018
And as the high school basketball season is set to get underway, Christopher is hoping that this coming year will be the best yet.
“I just want to be the best Josh that I can,” Christopher said. “To make sure I can lead my team to a championship this year, and just be satisfied at the end of my junior year, whether its summer and getting all the offers that I want or maybe a ranking but that doesn’t matter. It’s just being satisfied with everything I did in basketball.”