Kevin Schneider, playing an emcee role during Saturday’s “Big Shots South Carolina Tip-Off” AAU event at Heathwood Hall, used Josiah James dribbling as his cue to speak into the microphone.
“This is one the best point guards in the country, folks,” Schneider announced to a crowd spread around two courts.
James, representing TMP out of Charleston, then calmly stuck a corner 3-pointer. On TMP’s next possession, James had a put-back slam.
Add impeccable timing to the long list of things James does well on a floor. The 6-foot-6 point guard is a rising senior at Porter-Guad High School. He’s drawing interest from the likes of Kentucky and Duke. Virginia, Stanford and South Carolina are among those programs who have offered a scholarship.
In a loaded 2019 class, James is the No. 2 player in 247Sports’ state of South Carolina composite rankings. Naturally, Frank Martin and the USC staff has been aggressive in its pursuit.
“I’m hearing from them almost every other day,” James said Saturday. “Coach Martin is actually coming down next week. I’ll meet with him 1-on-1
“I’ve met with Coach (Perry) Clark a lot. He’s an older guy. He has a lot of wisdom. I love talking to him and Coach Bruce (Shingler).”
James averaged 10.4 points and six assists per game this past season as Porter-Guad won a third consecutive state championship in late February. A month later, he was one of 24 players in the ’19 class – as selected by USA Basketball – to participate in the inaugural NCAA Next Generation combine. The event was held in San Antonio in conjunction with the Final Four.
It was there where James teamed with Gray Collegiate’s Juwan Gary, another high-priority South Carolina target.
(Martin and Shingler visited with Gary, the state’s third-ranked player, on Friday.)
“I was just talking about his top schools and things like that and what schools want him the most,” James said, “because we very well could end up at the same college and I think our games complement each other well. So we were just talking about things like that. We weren’t really competing on who talks to South Carolina the most.”
James said he’s privately already cut down his list of schools he’s still interested in, telling some coaches to move on. USC and Clemson are still very much in the mix.
The Gamecocks are a year removed from their first Final Four appearance. The Tigers just advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1997.
“The kid’s getting recruited by almost everybody, but he’s in a good spot because we have – and he knows this – two big-time programs in our state,” said TMP coach Antoine Saunders. “South Carolina and Clemson are two major programs. Sweet 16 and Final Four, back to back years. So you don’t have to go anywhere else to play basketball.
“Now he’s going to go where it best fits him, but he also realizes he’s also at home. He’ll figure out what’s best for him, but he realizes you don’t have to chase something. It’s here.
“Now if something else fits better for him, that’s fine. But it’s good that he recognizes there are two major programs right here in our state. Final Four and Sweet 16 back to back years by our major universities is big-time.”
James will soon start to plan official visits. He wants to choose his college before the start of his senior season.
“It’s awesome,” James said of USC and Clemson’s recent NCAA tournament success. “The Final Four and the Sweet 16, I’ve always dreamed of playing in both of those and reaching those goals. That’s my goal in college. It means a lot to this state.
“If I do choose an in-state school, I’m hoping we can go even further and get a national championship. Or any school that I go to.”