Cory Joseph has shown a lot of ability on the basketball court, leading his team to a national high school championship last year. But this fall he really put his athleticism on display at Henderson International School by cartwheeling down the hallway.
The gymnastics had nothing to do with a sterling performance on the hardwood, however, or another big victory. The Findlay College Prep point guard learned he had scored 22 on his ACT test. Nineteen had been his target.
“I felt so happy just seeing him so excited in achieving something we knew he was capable of,” Pilots coach Mike Peck says. “That 22 put him off the charts.”
That score ensures Joseph will be eligible to play college basketball, and his play for Findlay Prep—which is affiliated with private school Henderson International and funded by auto magnate and former UNLV basketball player Cliff Findlay—has some of the top programs in the country taking a long look at him.
Joseph is the nation’s top prep guard and has helped lead the Pilots to a 27-2 record and a No. 3 national ranking by USA Today. He is averaging a team-leading 17.9 points and 4.8 assists per game, while also ranking third on the team with 6.6 rebounds per game.
He is weighing a scholarship offer from UNLV, but is also considering Connecticut, Minnesota, Texas and Villanova.
Connie Joseph trusted her son was making a wise move when he left home in the Toronto area two summers ago to attend Henderson International. Still, she was nervous about her young son moving so far away from home. But Joseph quickly produced in the classroom, then led Findlay to the ESPN national title last season.
Peck is proud of the way Joseph has conducted himself at Henderson International.
“We opened our arms and doors, and gave him the opportunity,” Peck says. “He did it. He decided he wanted to be a better student, to go all out in practice. … He earned everything. We’re as thankful to him as he is to us, I’m sure.”
Joseph plays his final two home games for Findlay Prep on Friday, Feb. 26, and Saturday, Feb. 27, against Westwind Prep (Phoenix) and Impact Basketball Academy of Las Vegas, respectively.
The rudder of last year’s ESPN national championship team will first try to steer Findlay toward a repeat at the tournament April 1-3 at Coppin State University in Baltimore. Joseph and Findlay Prep forward Tristan Thompson also were selected on Feb. 11 to play in the prestigious McDonald’s All-American Game in Columbus, Ohio, on March 31.
“It was priceless coming here,” Joseph says. “The next step, structure-wise, will be easy. Everybody wants to be a pillar of a program.”
Joseph gets his toughness from his father, David, a former collegiate point guard in Canada who is now a driving examiner in Toronto but still plays a mean game in a men’s league. A lefty, he once played a game with a broken left hand. He could dunk two balls at once. He taught Cory and older brother Devoe, a sophomore guard at Minnesota, to never take a day off.
“He’s definitely my role model,” Joseph says. “He taught me to shoot the ball high over my head, to get it off in the paint against bigger guys. We’d shoot 500 shots a day. He taught us moves, strength and conditioning at an early age.”
Joseph’s easy demeanor belies a kid who has shown toughness and a drive to win on the court.
“He’s soft-spoken, carefree and fun-loving,” Peck says. “At the same time that kid can take care of himself. He’s a survivor. He’ll be fine wherever you throw him. He’s one of the special ones.”