Terrence Joyner has an outside shot of hearing his name called on June 28, but he's keeping his hopes up. (Flickr)
By Michael Scotto
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Terrence Joyner's basketball career can be compared to a roller coaster ride at Six Flags.
Joyner's four-year college career began with a Letter of Intent to play for Arkansas, but he eventually signed with New Mexico State. After a rough freshman season both on and off the court, Joyner transferred to Mississippi Valley State and reached the NCAA Tournament this past season.
Coming out of high school Joyner was one of the nation's top recruits and originally signed a Letter of Intent to play at Arkansas in the SEC. Yet, Joyner never made it to Arkansas and was granted a release to sign with New Mexico State University.
"I signed with Arkansas, but I didn't qualify out of Genesis One so I got a release from my Letter of Intent and committed to New Mexico State University. I knew I would be good. We had Herb Pope, Wendell McKines, and Troy Gillenwater, all future pros this year so it was good for me," said Joyner.
What appeared to be a good fit on the court turned out to be a nightmare both on and off the court. Yet, according to Joyner, it was one of the most important experiences in his young life.
"It was a rough freshmen year for me. I had to sit out the first 13 games because I didn't qualify out of prep school so it set me back. Then when I came back I got arrested 11 games in. I got suspended and it set me back my freshmen year, but I learned so much about life that year. I had lost my grandma and it made me a better person on and off the court, which I am now," said Joyner.
After his rough freshman season Joyner decided to transfer to Mississippi Valley State University and sit out a full season to do so. During his two seasons at MVSU Joyner became a big fish in small pond and helped the small school reach the NCAA Tournament this past season.
According to Joyner, much of the credit for his success at MVSU goes to his coach Sean Woods.
"Sean helped me extremely on and off the court. His intensity and passion for the game rubbed off on me. We had a father and son type of relationship. He was a great defensive player under Rick Pitino and he challenged everyday to be a great defender, which I did become this year. He played in the NBA briefly so he always told me I had to work because it would be hard coming out of MVSU," said Joyner.
Despite playing at a smaller school than he originally anticipated, Joyner felt confident his play and the team's success would ultimately get him recognition from the NBA.
"Everyday knowing that some of the guys I played with and against are in the NBA and me being at a SWAC school made me hungry and that was the fuel to my fire, but I didn't feel underrated because I was highly rated coming out of high school. I knew if we won I would get my chance again," said Joyner.
Despite his role in leading the team to the NCAA Tournament Joyner knows there will always be doubters, but he has a message for those that question his competition level while playing in the SWAC.
"I would say that I was highly rated in high school. I signed with an SEC school. I had good games against the tops schools in the nation. I played in the SWAC but I lead my team in scoring. We made history in the SWAC winning 17 games straight, the longest winning streak behind Kentucky. We won in the regular season and went to the tournament. There's no doubt in my mind I can play in the NBA," said Joyner.
In a draft where youth and potential are highly valued, Joyner points to his experience and shooting ability as his greatest strengths that can translate to the next level.
"I think staying four years in college have really helped me and I think I'm ready to play now. It won't take me long. I can be a great backup point guard right away," said Joyner. "I can really shoot the ball. I hit 75 threes this year. Not set shots either, off the dribble, and on the move. I'm great off the pick and roll and I'm a great defender. Being a leader is also one of my biggest strengths. I compare myself to guys like George hill, Ramon Sessions, and Eric Maynor."
Joyner has also been training for the NBA Draft with Impact Basketball where NBA executives, scouts, and coaches have passed through to evaluate each prospect. ESPN's Chad Ford was recently spotted at the facility among others. The experience at Impact Basketball has been beneficial according to Joyner.
"I'm working on every aspect of my game here at Impact. We do a lot of the NBA pre-draft workouts and routines so I'm getting prepared everyday and there are good guards here so we compete everyday and its really getting me ready for the next two months," said Joyner.
Playing against top competition isn't something new for Joyner. Growing up in Los Angeles Joyner faced some top competition including current young and talented NBA guards.
"James Harden is my best friend. He has helped me a lot these past two summers. He tells me what to work on and what to expect coming in. Brandon Jennings, Russell Westbrook, Darren Collison, Jrue Holiday, and Darius Morris are Los Angeles points guards in the NBA doing very well so I get advice from them also," said Joyner.
The experiences against those NBA guards from Los Angeles and his training at Impact Basketball have helped boost Joyner's confidence. Looking ahead, Joyner also uses Steve Nash as motivation and as a role model to make his NBA dream a reality.
"I led a small school to accomplishments that have never been done, which Steve Nash did at Santa Clara and it helped him in the NBA because he already led guys with less talent than guys in the NBA and the ability to stretch the defense. A lot of point guards are struggling shooting the three," said Joyner.
Though the challenge will be an uphill battle, Joyner is ready to finally fulfill the promise he showed as a young high school recruit.
"My mindset will be cut throat. I know I have to prove a lot more than other point guards and I'm looking forward to doing that," said Joyner.
Lastly, Joyner has a final message for NBA executives and scouts before they decide his NBA future.
"I will work hard coming from MVSU. I have the work ethic. I'm a great leader and I really believe I will have a successful NBA career whether I get drafted or not. Jeremy Lin and Isaiah Thomas have showed me that even if you get passed on don't give up. Success is the best revenge," said Joyner.
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