Joseph Leads Oregon's Resurgence
By Jackson Long
Devoe Joseph gets one year at the University of Oregon, and he is making the most of it. After transferring from the University of Minnesota, Joseph is playing out his only season left with the Ducks and has taken on a pivotal role in the team's success this year.
Joseph, a native of Toronto, Canada, began his college career at Minnesota, playing under renowned head coach Tubby Smith.
"As a young kid my dream was to play in the NBA and the first step of that dream is to play in the NCAA," said Joseph. "Minnesota is a great place. When I went on my visit there it felt a lot like home in Toronto. The coaching staff really recruited me hard."
But after two and half seasons as a Golden Gopher, Joseph decided it was time for a change.
"Although I had so many great times in Minnesota, it was a very up and down road," said Joseph. "And a lot of those down times I thought to myself that I could maybe try a new situation and see what that is like. And I eventually told myself that I was never going to know what it was like until I did it. So I decided to make a change in my life and it worked out well."
During winter break of his junior year, Joseph made the split decision to leave Minnesota.
After being granted a release from the university, he was contacted by many high profile basketball schools including Baylor, West Virginia, Alabama and Oregon.
"When I heard the name Oregon, it just felt good," Joseph said. "I felt like the Pac-12 was really my style of play and I really liked [head coach Dana] Altman."
He enrolled at UO without ever visiting the campus.
Joseph attended Oregon for the rest of the academic year but still wasn't cleared to play for the Ducks until the conclusion of the fall quarter in 2011.
His first minutes came against Fresno State on December 10. Joseph scored 18 points in 29 minutes. He hasn't slowed down since.
In this, his senior season, Joseph is tops for Oregon in scoring, averaging more than 15 points per game, and currently stands at fifth in the Pac-12 in scoring.
Joseph's offensive outpouring has been a key in this season's resurgence of the Oregon program, as the Ducks are just off the lead in the Pac-12 standings, whereas last season the Ducks finished the conference season at 7-11 and seven games out of first place.
For most other Oregon seniors, winning games as a Duck hasn't always been easy. For Joseph, he doesn't know any other way.
"I don't think I have ever been on a losing team," Joseph said.
Joseph led his high school squad to a 70-2 record. In his two full seasons at Minnesota, the Gophers had winning seasons and back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances.
Now as a Duck, Joseph looks to be part of another winning team.
"This program has made so many positive changes," Joseph said. "Bringing in coach Altman and myself, guys who have been to the tournament, and having those guys around you definitely makes a difference. But the guys who have been here are winners too, they just haven't been fortunate."
Not only has Joseph helped turn Oregon into a winning program, he potentially has the opportunity to play in his third NCAA Tournament if the Ducks finish the season strong and have a good showing in the Pac-12 Tournament.
"Anything short of the tournament, for me, would be a disappointment," Joseph said. "When the guys ask me about [the tournament], I tell them how incredible it is to be one of the 65 teams to play in it and how special the moment is."
If the Ducks do make it to March Madness it would be quite an achievement. Joseph is one of seven players on Oregon's 13-man roster who did not begin their careers in Eugene. Three of the Ducks top five scorers are in their first year at UO.
With over half the team being comprised of transfers, not too many players have shared the same court for too long. That is not the case though for Joseph and his current teammate, roommate and fellow Toronto native Olu Ashaolu.
Joseph and Ashaolu played on the same AAU and junior-national teams in Canada during their prep days and Joseph was a catalyst in convincing Ashaolu, also a senior, to transfer from Louisiana Tech for the 2011-2012 season.
"I gave him a call and said 'Hey, I am here at Oregon,' and that was a big thing that drew him in because he knew somebody here," said Joseph.
As the regular season draws to a close and Oregon's postseason fate is still unknown, Joseph plans to really take in the short amount of time he has left on a college court.
"I just want to end up on the basketball court. I love the game," Joseph said. "It is hard to know where I will end up, so I am just playing out the season to the best of my abilities."