Josh James likes to keep things simple. He plays basketball, does well in school and was looking for a college where he could continue to do both at a high level.
Monmouth offered him that opportunity -- which is why the Archbishop Stepinac combo guard picked the Northeast Conference school Saturday night.
“I looked at it like this is where I feel comfortable, this is where I can become better and have a great college career,” he said. “When I took my unofficial visit, I knew that’s where I wanted to be. When the official came and I got to be [at Monmouth] for 48 hours, I got to see what was really going on and I got even more comfortable.”
The 6-foot-1 sharpshooter, who enjoyed a big summer on the AAU circuit with New Heights after a standout junior year with Stepinac, picked head coach King Rice’s program over Stony Brook, Marist and Manhattan.
He got along well with his new teammates, felt at home on campus and, most of all, envisioned his future at Monmouth under a coaching staff he felt comfortable with.
“They’re great people to be around, they’re down to heart, they’re gonna make me better,” he said. “They were honest. I was able to build a relationship so fast with the coaches.”
One coach involved with James recruitment was surprised he opted to head to the NEC, considering he had looks from schools of other conferences considered superior.
“He is better than the NEC,” the coach said. “He should kill it.”
Stepinac coach Tim Philp saw Division I potential in James the moment he walked through the doors at Stepinac his freshman year. James has evolved ever year as a player, to the point where he is now considered one of the city’s top seniors.
He more than held his own with New Heights over the summer, helping them win the Memorial Day Super 16 Showcase title and reach the championship game at the Adidas Invitational in Indianapolis and the Adidas Super 64 in Las Vegas, and led Stepinac in scoring a year ago.
“If he continues to work hard and play the way he’s played his entire life, he’ll definitely help improve their program,” Philp said. “He can be an all-conference, all-league type of player.”