Photo courtesy of Position Sports/Jon Lopez/Nike
By David Cordova
When one thinks of Glens Falls, New York, they probably think of cold weather and just another town. But in high school basketball circles, it’s the place to be during the fourth week of March, being that it is the site of the New York State Federation Tournament, where teams in three classifications (AA, A & B) battle it out for the right to call themselves state champions.
Glens Falls has also produced a good basketball talent in Jimmer Fredette, who played at Brigham Young University for four years and led them to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including a berth in the Sweet 16 in his senior year, and was also named the 2011 National Player of the Year. Fredette was drafted No. 10 by the Sacramento Kings in the 2011 NBA Draft and would then play five seasons for four different teams. He is now playing for the Shanghai Sharks in the Chinese Basketball Association, and was named the CBA International MVP in 2017.
And now the up-and-coming talent in the Glens Falls area is none other than Joseph “Joe” Girard III, a 6-foot-1 junior guard who is a scoring threat, and is considered to be one of the best players in the state of New York.
“Basically, just my drive to win and wanting to be great,” says Girard on what makes him want to be successful on the court. “I want to reach my full potential as a basketball player and be able to do it at the highest level. You know, everybody that plays basketball, especially in the EYBL, their goal is to make it into the NBA, and that’s obviously my goal and I think that’s what motivates me, is to be able to be the best player I can be. To drive myself and will myself to make it, to be a professional basketball player.”
Since the age of four, Girard has had a passion for the game, which was given to him by his father, Joseph “Joe” Girard, Jr., who was once a coach at the local secondary school, Glens Falls High School. “That’s when I started trying to shoot on a real hoop, my dad was the girls varsity coach at the time, so that’s when I first stopped in the gym, and I guess, I fell in love with it.”
When asked about being from a small town like Glens Falls, Girard replied, “Yeah, it’s a really small town, you know a lot of people in there, it’s a great community. The whole community is behind our sports teams, with football and basketball, they just rally around us and give us a lot of energy that we need for every single game, and we just have great support. You know, I’m really grateful and thankful that I come from there.”
Another great thing for Girard is the fact that he gets to test the nets at the Cool Insuring Arena on the regular. For many years, it was known as the Glens Falls Civic Center, which hosted both the state public high school tournament and the state Federation tournament.
When asked about playing in a nice venue such as the Cool Insuring Arena, Girard replied, “The Civic Center, it’s great. In recent years, we’ve played in there, I’d say, twelve times in the last two, three years and sold it out. Everybody, like I said, loves Glens Falls now, and the way that we’ve performed the last few years has gotten people to come out to games. So I’d say eight out of those twelve times in the Civic Center, those games that we played, it’s been packed, maybe 6,000-plus there.”
When the high school season is out, he has played with the Albany City Rocks on the Nike EYBL circuit. This spring, throughout the first three sessions, he has averaged 13.7 points per game and has led them to a 9-3 record and first-place in Division A.
When asked about playing for the premier AAU program in upstate New York, he replied, “Yeah, it’s a great organization, one of the best, if not the best, you know, I feel, and Coach [Jim] Hart does a good job of getting his players to play the proper way of basketball, the way it’s supposed to be played. So I’m really grateful to be in, really close to where I live, established with the City Rocks, because they’re right in Albany, I’m 45 minutes from there, and I just have a really great connection with everybody there, and it’s one of the best programs I feel, country-wide.”
Also, there is one thing that Girard is known for: being the scoring leader in New York State history. On January 31st of this year, he broke the scoring record of 2,946 points, which was recently held by Lance Stephenson, who just finished his eighth NBA season with the Indiana Pacers. Girard now has 3,306 points in his high school career.
When asked about being the top scorer in New York state high school basketball history, Girard said, “It’s a great honor, I’ve worked hard for that. When I started playing varsity in eighth grade, a lot of people said that I had a chance to do it. I mean, I never really thought much of it, but going into this year, a lot of people had the expectation that I was going to break it, and I just took it game by game and play by play, and eventually, it happened, and I thank my teammates, my coaches, and the whole community for helping me out with that, and if I didn’t have those guys around me, buying into their roles, and helping me get there, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”
This season, Girard averaged 50 points, seven rebounds and six assists per game, and led the Glens Falls Indians to a 20-3 record and a berth in the NYSPHSAA “B” state sectional semifinals. For his efforts, he was named Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of New York. He was also named Albany Times Union Player of the Year and the Foothills Council League MVP. In his time with the Indians, he has led them to a record of 75-19 in varsity competition. From his freshman through his junior year, Glens Falls has had a record of 64-8.
At the present time, Girard’s recruitment has been skyrocketing, as he currently fields offers from schools such as Syracuse, Duke, Boston College, Michigan, Oklahoma, Ohio State and many others.
On where his recruitment stands at this time, he replied, “Right now, I’ve got about 25 offers in total, but pretty soon, I’m going to cut my list to about five or six, and try to make my decision soon. I’m going to sign in the early signing period during November, so I’m going to cut my list soon, and make a decision shortly after, probably, take a few visits, I’m not sure yet. It’s going to be hard for me, because I play football as well, and a lot of people take visits during football season, so I might have to do it earlier.”
Now that he is reaching his senior season, Girard has already reached legendary status for his scoring record. All he has left now is choosing a college, leading Glens Falls to a state championship, public and Federation that is, and a possible appearance in either the McDonald’s All-American Game or the Jordan Brand Classic.
But when asked how he wants to be remembered in New York State, Girard replied, “I just want to be remembered as a great leader, and one of those who is in the history books for being a notable player in New York. We’ve had a lot of great players who have played in the NBA and become legends, so I want to be one of those guys who’s remembered forever, and just known as a good person, and also as a basketball player, and I want to get my one state title this year, I got my last shot [at that this upcoming season], and I want to be remembered for that.”
What’s next for Joe Girard III? “Hopefully, we get a Peach Jam championship, and then go into Glens Falls, I want to win a state championship in football & basketball. But before that, I’m going to make my college decision sometime this summer, probably, and then sign in November.”
Highlights of Joe Girard III:
Courtesy of Section 2 Basketball.
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Courtesy of New Recruit Media, LLC.
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Courtesy of CBS6 Albany.