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College Scouts Have Ignored This All-Star : Troy Joseph Just Looking for Some Attention

Times Staff Writer

Troy Joseph felt a little nervous when he entered the Valencia High School gymnasium two weeks ago for the North’s opening day of practice for the 17th Orange County All-Star basketball game.

It’s easy to understand why. The Western High School star had broken his right wrist in the same gym only six weeks earlier.

“I kept looking at the rim and thinking about how I broke my wrist in the Superstar Development League,” he said. “It was a strange feeling.”

The 6-foot 3-inch Joseph was playing on the opening night of the league when he stole a pass and broke down court for one of his patented dunks. Because he knew a defender was behind him, Joseph hung on to the rim after completing the shot to prevent being low-bridged.

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That’s when he got hurt.

“I fell backwards and snapped my wrist,” he said. “I wrapped it up and kept playing, but it started to swell. I knew it was broken.”

Joseph was hoping his showing in the league might get him a scholarship. He had been virtually overlooked during his senior season, despite averaging 17.4 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2 assists per game.

The scouts’ rap on Joseph, who graduated Friday night with a 3.1 grade-point average, is that he isn’t quick enough to be a guard and isn’t tall enough to be a forward.

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Joseph was the tallest player on Western’s team last season, so he was forced to play center.

Scouts may have their doubts about Joseph, but Greg Hoffman, the Western coach, doesn’t.

“Some colleges are making a big mistake by not recruiting Troy,” Hoffman said. “He’s a great leaper (36-inch vertical jump) with great instincts on the boards. He also has great hands. I put him on the front of our full-court press, and he made a lot of steals.

“I think Troy would develop into a fine off-guard. He’s still growing. When he started in our program, he was 5-9 and 130 pounds. Now he’s 6-3 and 170 pounds.”

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Joseph was born in Trinidad but his family moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., when he was 2 years old. He lived in Brooklyn with his three brothers and two sisters for nine years until the family moved again, this time to Stanton.

“We lived in a rough neighborhood (in New York) where only the strong survived,” he said. “Fortunately, I had two older brothers looking out for me. I never played basketball there. We played soccer and baseball on the playground.”

Joseph played Junior All-American football in Stanton and had dreams of becoming a wide receiver for Western.

Then, while learning to play basketball at Orangeview Junior High, Joseph began to grow. He was 5-2 in the eighth grade, but his doctor said he might wind up as tall as 6-5.

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Joseph also grew as a person. He became one of the most popular students at Western and was named the Most Valuable Player on the Pioneer basketball team for two consecutive seasons.

“Troy was the basketball program at Western for the past two years,” Hoffman said. “He personally got us into the playoffs this year. We started out 2-5 in the Orange League, and he rallied the players behind him to win three straight games to make the playoffs.”

Joseph’s assignment for the All-Star game, scheduled for next Saturday night in Orange Coast College’s Peterson Gym, will be to guard the South’s Bryant Walton. Walton has been rated as one of the top guards in the state by college scouts.

“I played against him once in the summer before my sophomore year,” Joseph said. “I was a little runt then, and he was swatting the ball away from me. Hopefully, that won’t happen again.

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“Since my wrist healed, I’ve been working hard to improve my dribbling skills and my free-throw shooting. I was an 83% (free-throw) shooter as a junior and made only 67% this year.”

Joseph is considering opportunities to play at Cerritos, Cypress and Fullerton colleges, but he really wants to go to a four-year school and begin studying electronics. School is something he enjoys.

“My mother and father are always on me about getting good grades,” he said. “They got a progress report this semester that I was failing my Marriage and Family Life class. I thought my father was going to kill me.

“I told him that I got an A at the quarter and was turning in my work. It must have been a mistake. Finally, my mom called the teacher, and they found out it was a mistake.”

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