Photo courtesy of Ben Shot It/Ben Berry
By David Cordova
This spring & summer on the Nike EYBL circuit, the PSA Cardinals had a good crew of guards that made their presence felt in the eyes of the college coaches. One of them in particular, was Joe Toussaint.
The 6-foot point guard out of The Bronx’s Cardinal Hayes High School is one of the city’s best point guards in the Class of 2019 and had a terrific summer in which plenty of college coaches noticed him and noticed what those on the asphalt & the gyms of the city have known for the last four years.
When asked what motivates him to be successful on and off the court, he replied, “I’d say, my mom, cause she works hard, she comes home at 10 [PM] every day, she has a day job and she goes to school, she’s trying to get her bachelor’s degree, so I see her working hard, and I’m trying to work ten times harder than her.”
Toussaint hails from the Highbridge section of The Bronx, where there is a gritty environment that produces plenty of toughness in people and also makes them strong and mature. “You know, it’s always tough, New York City is a tough place to play. I’m tough because I’m from New York, so I’ll just say New York made me.”
At the age of 11, he was introduced to the game by his mentor, Tony Wright, who he credits with teaching him everything he knows about the game of basketball.
He also played with the Latino Pastoral Action Center, better known as LPAC, a basketball program in his neighborhood that has been well-known for many years on the local basketball scene.
When asked about what LPAC meant to him, he replied, “It means a lot. I wouldn’t say I started there. Well, I actually did start there, because when my brother played there, I used to go to the gym all the time and shoot around, but it’s been a home for me for the past six years, I’ve been there for a long time.”
From there, he went on to Cardinal Hayes, where he played on the varsity as a freshman and has been there ever since. “I just thought it was the right school for me,” said Toussaint of Hayes, “These other schools like Molloy, said they were getting Cole [Anthony], Christ the King said they was getting Kofi [Cockburn] and they had Tyson [Walker], and I seen Cardinal Hayes’ roster and they only had Clive [Allen] and he was a senior, so I was like, ‘I’ll play my freshman year and my sophomore year [on the varsity].”
As a sophomore in the 2016-17 season, he helped lead Hayes to their first CHSAA city championship on the “AA” level since 1990. When asked about that experience, he replied, “I mean, it’s always a good feeling to win, I mean, being on a championship team, being a sophomore winning the MVP, that meant a lot to me, and I proved a lot to other people, that I’m a tough kid and stuff, and I’m a winner.”
Last season, as a junior, he averaged 15 points per game for the Cardinals and led them to a 21-8 record and led them to a berth in the CHSAA semifinals, where they would lose to Christ the King. “I thought I played pretty well. I didn’t play up to my potential, I thought, but it’s a whole new year, and I’m trying to get back on track to where I left off my sophomore year.”
This past summer, he played with the PSA Cardinals on the Nike EYBL circuit, where he averaged 5.7 points and 4.2 assists per game and helped lead them to a berth at the prestigious Nike Peach Jam tournament in North Augusta, South Carolina.
“It’s always a good experience with PSA, they pushed me in practice, going to tournaments they always pushed me, especially my best friend [Cole], when I played bad he pushed me even more,” said Toussaint on his experience with PSA.
This summer, Toussaint got more recognition, when he was selected to participate in events such as the Pangos All-American Camp in Cerritos, California and the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, Virginia in the month of June, where he played against some of the nation’s finest talent and in front of NBA scouts. When asked about that experience, he replied, “To be honest with you, I thought I was a top-100 player, so I should’ve gotten the invite. It means a lot to me, because a lot of people don’t get that opportunity to go out there and play in front of NBA scouts, so I mean, I felt honored actually.”
After getting plenty of attention from colleges that led to offers, he finally decided on a school on September 8th, as he decided to commit to the University of Iowa while on his recruiting visit. When asked what led him to commit to the Hawekeyes, he replied, “Just the place, it’s a good place. The coaching staff, as well, they brought me in, as if I was their own kid. When I got there, they made me feel comfortable since I got off the plane. They just treated me like family.”
When asked what he’ll bring to the Big Ten Conference next season, he also replied, “A whole lot. I got a lot for the Big Ten to be honest with you.”
Under head coach Fran McCaffery, who is heading into his ninth season at Iowa, the Hawkeyes have made three NCAA Tournament appearances, as well as three appearances in the NIT. Last season, the Hawkeyes finished a dismal 14-19. But when Toussaint steps on campus next summer, chances are he will turn the tide for the program.
But for now, before he gets to the greener pastures of Iowa City, Iowa, he must complete his senior year at Cardinal Hayes. When asked what his plans are his final season with the Cardinals, he replied, “Win a state championship.”
As for the future, he added: “To be honest, that’s in God’s hands, not mine.”
Pretty soon, the folks in Iowa will get to see what all of New York City has seen in Joe Toussaint. Only time will tell what will happens when he hits the college hardwood, but for now, it’s grind season for him at the school on the Grand Concourse.
Highlights of Joe Toussaint:
Courtesy of Courtside Films.
Courtesy of In The Lab News.
Courtesy of Courtside Films.
Courtesy of Moving Pictures/Hector Martinez.
Courtesy of HS Box Scores, NYC, LLC.