Hard work, dedication and two-way talent has garnered a local basketball player the attention of an American college scout.
Josh DeJong, 17, is a Grade 12 guard with the Alberni Armada senior boys basketball team.
While some high school students were sleeping in over the summer months DeJong was at the Jericho Road Church gym working his conditioning, improving his shooting, and lifting weights.
The hard work paid off for the two-way guard who was named defensive player of the year. He received a visit in August from Jesse Brown, head coach of the Tacoma Community College Titans men’s basketball team.
“He has a good work ethic, was putting up shots and he knows how to guard a player,” Brown said in a telephone interview. “He also comes from a good family and that speaks to high integrity, something that colleges look for in a player.”
Brown found out about DeJong through a mutual friend of Harold Lefty Williams, the Armada junior boys’ coach and made the trip to Port Alberni.
The Titans play in the nine-team Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges western division. They were 16-0 in league play and won their sixth regional title in eight years.
Brown liked what he saw, he said. But if DeJong hopes to earn a second look at recruiting time he has to get stronger and work on his ball handling. “He wants to be a point-guard so he’s going to have to become more vocal.”
DeJong will have his work cut out for him. The Titans had their first workouts of the season this week and the team includes 15 freshman players. “It’s a tough place to play. But if he puts in work it’s not far-fetched that he could end up here,” Brown said.
DeJong first played basketball under the watchful eye of his father, a former standout with ADSS in 1986. The younger DeJong stood out from other players, dad said.
“He was keen, he worked hard and he picked up the game easily.”
DeJong stuck with the game through AW Neill Middle School and played house soccer as well.
He took a year off basketball in Grade 9, but he stayed involved in the game by helping coach at middle school. “I missed it, I really missed it. But I had to take that year off,” he said.
DeJong took up the game again in Grade 10, working extra hard on getting up to speed with the rest of the team who were a year ahead of him in skill development. His hard work was rewarded with the team’s best defensive player of the year accolades.
DeJong played again in Grade 11, and he immediately attracted Williams’ attention.
Williams, a former professional basketball player, grew up in the basketball hotbed of the US.
“Athletes can recognize other athletes and I could see potential in him but he needed some fine tuning,” said Williams, a former college defensive player of the year.
With that, DeJong worked all summer on his shooting, conditioning and weight lifting. And he continued to hone his defensive game. “I was always taught that defense wins games so that’s what I worked hard on,” he said.
He hopes to study chemistry or biology while playing college basketball.