NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — In many ways, Josh Christopher is an ideal recruiting target for the Arizona Wildcats.
He’s a five-star shooting guard in the class of 2020 from Los Angeles. He has a strong 6-foot-5-inch frame, with the ability to score at all levels. Spurs wing Quincy Pondexter, who is coaching Christopher’s Vegas Elite club in the Peach Jam this week, simply calls him “tremendous.”
Christopher is also a good friend of another five-star California 2020 guard that the Wildcats have recruited, Jalen Green.
“It would be lit to go to the same school as Josh,” Green said Friday, after the two went head-to-head in a Peach Jam game. “We’ve been rocking since seventh grade.”
What’s more: Christopher comes from a basketball family with deep Pac-12 ties. Two older brothers have signed on at two other schools in the conference.
The only problem: One of them, Caleb, just signed with Arizona State.
Naturally, there’s been speculation that Caleb’s decision might make it bit awkward for Josh Christopher to pick the Wildcats, but he shot that down immediately.
“Nah, nah, nah,” he said, grinning. “I’m gonna go wherever fits me. Caleb’s at ASU because that’s going to help him in his career moving forward. So whatever decision I make will be a decision that helps me move forward.”
Caleb Christopher chose the Sun Devils after a wild ride. He initially committed to Cal State Northridge out of Mayfair High School in Lakewood, California, but backed out after coach Reggie Theus was fired in 2018. Around the same time, Caleb Christopher suffered a shoulder injury. He took a prep school year at Phoenix Hillcrest, where he was offered by ASU coach Bobby Hurley.
Caleb Christopher told Rivals.com that he knew ASU’s director of basketball operations, Derrick Wrobel. Wrobel was at Cal when the Christophers’ older brother, Patrick, played for the Golden Bears.
Patrick Christopher was a two-time first-team all Pac-10 player for Cal in 2008-09 and 2009-10. He spent the next seven seasons bouncing around Europe, the NBA and G League.
Now it’s Josh’s turn to pick a college home — once he finishes a summer that included an invitation to USA Basketball’s U19 camp and EYBL circuit games with Vegas Elite, which lost 89-78 on Friday to Green and California-based Team Why Not.
Despite being one of the younger players invited to the U19 camp, Christopher made the cut to 18 finalists. He ultimately was not selected to join Green on the 12-player team that won the World Cup gold medal in Greece.
“It was a learning experience,” Christopher said. “I’ll use it as motivation for next year. That’s what I can take out of it.
“I have to be in the gym a lot more and make sure my shot is going down. It’s playmaking, being smart and knowing when to make plays for me and my teammates.”
Christopher will also be getting more serious about his recruitment. Maybe he’ll wind up even choosing a school in the Pac-12, where he’s also considering UCLA, Oregon and, yes, ASU.
“Of course, ASU always reaches out,” he said. “But Caleb doesn’t put the pressure on me to come to his school. He understands it’s both of our own futures, so he hasn’t said anything to me about where he wants me to go or anything like that. He just kind of lets me be a kid and play basketball.”
Besides, the Wildcats have reasons of their own for pulling Caleb’s little brother their direction. Josh Christopher has been a longtime UA target; he says coach Sean Miller and staffers often touch base.
The UA’s track record might prove helpful, too.
“I love (former UA standout) Stanley Johnson, so that’s a major factor for me,” Christopher said. “I got to watch him play there and I have a lot of friends over there. So they obviously like California kids.”