Get to Know Joe Girard III- From Glens Falls to Syracuse, a Star is Rising on the Court
When it comes to Joseph Girard III, there's a certain aura around him that you don't often see around high school recruits.
It's no coincidence that exact phrase "be different" is how he announced his commitment to Syracuse. It's also written on the red Nike sneakers he's wearing when I met him during a recent practice at Glens Falls High School.
I asked Joe, when did he first notice he was "different" and a cut above the average basketball player.
"I think just growing up I was kind of born into a basketball family. Glens Falls has a lot of Girards around here just in athletics in general but my dad played college basketball at Le Moyne, which is right down the road from Syracuse. All my coaches here are my cousins and all the Girards play basketball. It was kind of just something that I was born into and born with, a love for the game. As I started getting older and realized I was getting a little bit better, I truly fell in love with it and wanted to make it, you know, my job some day and before that I wanted to be a division I basketball player so I just worked my tail off just to become that and credit to my coaches, teammates and just everybody in the community for pushing me, supporting me and helping me become where I am right now."
Watch that shot release and it's clear right away, he has a silky smooth release that is a thing of beauty when it goes through the net. He will be a force for Jim Boeheim.
The thought of Girard III, Buddy Boeheim, Jalen Carey and Elijah Hughes and several other stars and blue chip recruits teaming up is pretty tantalizing for years to come.
What else is different about Girard III?
You might expect the all-time leading scorer in New York State history, a guy with offers from Syracuse, Duke, Washington and so many more to be cocky. You probably would even forgive it.
There's nothing of that sort with Joe. Not one iota.
"The recruitment process was really fun for me. A lot of kids might get stressed, might get overwhelmed but for me it was really entertaining and a really cool experience. My dad and my coaches and my mom and my family helped me get an experience at all the schools. It took a lot of unofficial visits to experience all the schools that were recruiting me and felt they wanted me at their program. Credit to them for taking the time out of their day and time out of their year just to follow up with me and watch me throughout my basketball career and just grow."
It's easy to see why college coaches around the country coveted Girard III on their team.
For Joe, the decision to choose Syracuse was made easier by two factors:
Proximity to home and Gerry McNamara.
"Coming to Syracuse I felt the most comfortable with. I’ve known Coach Boeheim and his family for a few years now through AAU with Buddy. I felt comfortable with the players there. I felt comfortable with the coaching staff there. Obviously, the distance and just the campus in general. There is really nothing like playing in the Dome. It’s kind of as simple as that. You know with 30,000 fans there’s really no sports complex like it in college basketball so I felt that there would be no better way to put on for Glens Falls than doing it two hours away" Joe says.
When it comes to McNamara and how often he hears all the comparisons to their game and style he adds "All the time. A lot of times he even says it. He sees a lot of himself in me and that was another big reason as to why I picked Syracuse. You know I thought there would be no better person to learn from and work out with everyday than a player like Coach McNamara and a coach like Coach McNamara who played like me in college and he’s done all the success stories that I’m looking forward to doing in the college level and he’s done what I’m trying to do so I felt him being there was definitely an advantage for me and a bonus and I’m really looking forward to working out with him."
He often says Syracuse is getting "a leader" and "someone who wants to win" and that's not lip service. Not only is Joe a clear and true leader in the Glens Falls practice I watched, he's a winner in everything he does.
A two-time New York State Champion for Glens Falls Football and right now his basketball team is on the verge of winning it all on the hardwood.
In short, Girard III walks the walk.
"It’s amazing and it’s just a credit to everybody here in the community itself. Throughout football and basketball, the community has been behind us the whole time. Through the ups, through the downs we’ve had. A few years ago we weren’t the best and we started turning that program around and Glens Falls has been there the whole time. I remember in football we’ve had charter buses travel with us to the state games and stuff like that even at the Carrier Dome and even here in basketball we sold out the Civic Center I want to say three or four times now and that’s not an easy place to sell out. It just goes to credit the community and Glens Falls as a whole for the support they give us and we couldn’t thank them enough."
While his Orange career hasn't started yet, he won't even be on campus until this summer, when asked about how Orange fans will view his time on the SU Hill 10-20 years in the future he has no problem putting those goals into words.
He has a plan, a plan that Syracuse fans will love and hope comes true.
"I just want them to think about a winner and a competitor. You know, that’s pretty much all I’m looking forward to doing there at Syracuse. I’ve had a lot of great team here at Glens Falls where I’ve won a lot of games. Two state titles in football, four 20-win seasons in basketball so far and I’m really looking forward to just winning at Syracuse. Coach McNamara won his first championship with Carmelo Anthony his freshman year and I’m looking forward to doing the same. I want to win multiple of them."
"Ultimately it comes down to winning" he adds.
If there's one thing to take from that, it may be simple:
Don't bet against Joseph Girard III.