By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
Jeremy Joseph didn’t know how many points he needed to reach the milestone 1,000-point plateau in his career, a total that had been achieved by only 11 other boys’ basketball players at Queen of Peace High School.
But the talented 6-foot-3 junior forward knew he was getting close.
“I figured I was like 50 something away,” Joseph said. “My family kept bringing it up. I was actually mad at them for saying something, because I didn’t want to know. I never talked about it once.”
But when Joseph’s family mentioned the 1,000-point club, it was in his brain.
“Every game, I was bothered by it,” Joseph said. “I just wanted it to be over. I knew it would eventually happen.”
After all, Joseph made scoring 1,000 points in his career a motivational goal when he was still in eighth grade.
“Since I came into the school and saw the banner, I knew I wanted to put my name up there with the rest,” Joseph said.
The list began with Brian St. Leger in 1981 and continued on to James McLane (currently playing at William Paterson University) 30 years later.
“I saw the banner and knew that it would be an accomplishment,” Joseph said.
One of the 11 names on the banners hanging in the school gym is Tom McGuire, Joseph’s head coach, who joined the 1,000-point club in 2003.
“I knew that it was just a matter of time,” McGuire said. “I knew that it wasn’t if, but when.”
After struggling with the milestone for a few games, Joseph finally joined the club last week, when he scored 19 points in a win over Ridgefield Park. He also grabbed 11 rebounds in that game.
The milestone game was sandwiched around two stellar performances against Secaucus, one in a win, the other in a tough loss.
Joseph had 29 points in a loss to the Patriots, then rebounded to tally 27 points and haul down 13 rebounds in a 59-52 win over the Patriots last Thursday night in the final home game of the season.
For his efforts, Joseph has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week. Joseph has been honored as Athlete of the Week for the second time, having also received recognition in January 2014.
“To be one of only 12 players, it’s an honor,” Joseph said as he posed under the banner that will eventually bear his name. “I’ve played with a few of them and saw some of them play and I know how talented they were. I know what they’ve done in college. It’s my goal to play in college like them. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance.”
Joseph said that he’s worked out with McLane and 1,000-point members Dwayne Moffatt (2009) and Al-Don Muhammad (2008), both of whom went on to play college basketball at Rutgers- Newark. Muhammad became a 1,000-point scorer for the Scarlet Raiders as well.
Before Muhammad, there was Ryan Kearney in 2004, then there was that guy who Joseph knows all too well.
“I keep reminding Jeremy that he hasn’t passed me yet,” McGuire said. “I’m just proud. He’s following in the footsteps of such great players. I’ve known Jeremy for a long time. I coached him in CYO, so it’s an honor to have him join the others up on the wall.”
“He jokes with me all the time, saying that he was better than me,” Joseph said. “I actually want to beat him.”
The all-time scoring leader is Guy Indyke, who had 1,418 points in his career before graduating in 1985. With another year left to play, Joseph has that all-time scoring record within his reach.
But the scoring didn’t exactly come easy for Joseph this season. Teams were double- and sometimes triple-teaming him, knowing full well that he was the key to the Golden Griffins’ offense.
“It was a lot tougher,” Joseph said. “Every team came out with a plan to stop me. We lost a lot of players from last year, seniors who graduated. So I was basically playing with a totally different team. I thought that if it happened (reaching the 1,000-point plateau) this year, it would be great, but I knew it would happen next year.”
Joseph has worked diligently on his game in order to secure the coveted college scholarship. He’s extended his shooting range to the 3-point circle, where he is consistently making shots. He is playing more with his back to the basket, but his future is definitely as a small forward/shooting guard.
“My family is from Sri Lanka, so they didn’t know anything about basketball,” Joseph said. “But once they realized I could be good, they’ve invested a lot of money and time in me. They’re into it now, because they want to see me go to college. That’s the goal now.”
McGuire knows that Joseph can play on the college level. It’s just a matter of where. With another year to showcase his talents – as well as a summer of playing AAU basketball – Joseph is bound to make some college recruiter happy.
For now, Joseph will concentrate on the Griffins’ upcoming NJSIAA Non-Public B North state playoff game against Morristown-Beard.
The name going on the banner will have to wait another year, until Joseph’s final points for the Golden Griffins are tallied and totaled.
“It really is an honor,” Joseph said. “I really like the feeling, knowing my name will be there forever.”
As for the all-time scoring record in the school’s history? Well, Joseph can’t come close to that. It’s the 2,003 points scored by girls’ basketball standout and 2007 Observer Female Athlete of the Year Courtney Keegan, who had the eighth highest scoring total in Bergen County history. Some things are just a pipe dream. Joseph has to shoot for the boys’ record instead.