Porter-Gaud guard Josiah James has done enough during his high school career to be regarded as one of the top players nationally in the 2019 class. He’s a five-star prospect that signed with Tennessee in November.
It’s scary to think he’s taken his game to another level. The 6-foot-6 combo guard has become more of an offensive threat this season and that was evident during the Cyclones 62-43 victory over Heathwood Hall Tuesday night.
James scored his team’s first 21 points and finished with 38 to go along with nine rebounds, three assists and two blocks. He didn’t play in the final quarter.
James had the luxury of playing with Aaron Nesmith (now at Vanderbilt) and Jake Lanford (Yale) as Porter-Gaud won three straight Class 3A SCISA state championships and compiling a 74-9 record over those three years.
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It’s James team now, and after an adjustment period at the beginning of the season, he’s starting to embrace his role.
“I put in a lot of work over the summer and the early part of the season, and it’s helping me score the way that I am right now,” James said. “My teammates play a big part of that and they’re threats all over the court. I was told early I was going to have to score a lot, and it was kind of tough but we’re starting to catch our groove.”
James scored in a variety of ways – he knocked down three 3-pointers, was 11-for-11 on free throws and scored on layups and mid-range jumpers almost at will. He was the only Cyclone player to score during the first 13:38 of the game, and that was good enough to give the visitors a 21-15 lead. Matt Kelly broke the string with a 3-pointer from the corner.
James ended the half with 25 points to give Porter-Gaud a 30-16 lead.
His teammates scored the first eight points of the third quarter to maintain the double-digit advantage then James scored 13 points over a four-minute stretch to give the Cyclones a 53-33 lead late in the third quarter. The lead was never less than 17 the rest of the way.
Heathwood Hall coach Jeff Whalen has seen the progression of James over the last four years.
“I’m not sure anybody has someone that can cover him,” Whalen said. “He’s so smooth and plays under control. He does exactly what they want him to do. His shot is a lot better than it was, and he keeps improving.”
Isaiah Caldwell led Heathwood Hall (10-4) with 24 points. Cam Carraway added 10 but the Highlanders lost for the third time in their last four games.
“We have to get back to being unselfish,” Whalen said. “We don’t have much depth and lost a starter tonight to being sick and that hurts us, but the last four of five games we haven’t been the same team.”
PG: Josiah James 38, Cannon 6, Groves 5, Lafayette 4, Schwartz 4, Kelly 3, Kirshtein 2. HH: Isaiah Caldwell 24, Cam Carraway 10, Wren 4, Bell 3, Hall 2.
Porter-Gaud 48, Heathwood Hall 34
PG: Elise Pearson 15, Becky Van Kirk 13, Emmy Keogh 11, Kilburn 3, McCauley 2, Burnett 2, Flagg 2. HH: Morgan Goodwin 16, Tuller 7, McInnis 6, Moore 3, Allen 2.