Posted On: 08/20/18 9:25 AM
Following a freshman season where Josh Irwin (2021) averaged 15.2 points and 11.0 rebounds per game, the 6’6” forward is ready for a new challenge as a known commodity.
“Now this season, I’m going to see a lot more face-guards and all that,” Irwin said. “I know to expect that now. My whole mindset is just to win the conference again and go deeper into the playoffs.”
The no. 3 prospect in the 2021 class saw double-teams and the like this grassroots season with TNBA East Black, where he was teamed up with his West Geauga head coach Jeff Javorek.
“Almost every single game when I would catch fire, I would see double teams and then face-guards,” Irwin said. “I’ve been using my screens way better to try and get open. And since I’ve got stronger, I’ve been able to just push the guys off just a little bit more without the refs seeing and getting a foul.”
It also helps that Irwin’s scoring arsenal is so expansive. He’s an ambidextrous finisher who can turn over either shoulder in the post. Irwin, a lefty, also picks-and-pops to bomb triples at a high percentage, a skill he has only been cultivating since the middle of his eighth grade year.
While shooting is one of his most attractive qualities to collegiate coaching staffs, it can provide a unique challenge at the high school level because of how dominate he can be on the block.
“My coaches try to say, ‘Hey, you’re a little too much outside, bring it in a little bit.’ Because they always say you can’t stop a two-way player,” Irwin explained. “If your jump shot is not going in, back them into the post and get an easy bucket down low. But we’ve been really working a lot on mid-range post and down-low post too. Just hook shots right over your defender, just mismatches.”
“When I catch fire with two or three jump shots, defenders just fly at me as fast as they can. If I can pump fake then take one dribble or two dribbles and pull-up to hit that shot, it’d be deadly.”
Many of Irwin’s current strengths range beyond the scoring column. He’s a solidly built kid that sets the tone for a ball club and rebounds with enthusiasm.
“Rebounding is also a strength — I can pursue the ball pretty well. Communicating on defense because I’ve been told to communicate on defense my whole life,” Irwin said.
He’s also a natural leader.
“Before the first game even started, coach sat me down in his office and said, ‘Josh these guys look up to you already, even though you’re just a freshman, so please be a leader.’ And ever since then, leadership skills have shown.”
Following Irwin, a 4.08 student, worked out pretty well for the boys at West Geauga, as they won the Chagrin Valley Conference going 19-3.
He also carries himself like the lead man in the off-season, working out three times a day — weights, skill work, and five-on-five.
Ohio State, Michigan, Dayton, Akron, Bowling Green, and Kent State have entered his recruiting picture early on. OSU checked him out at the Nike Summer Championships in Columbus during the July Live Period. But he pointed to Michigan and Bowling Green as his most consistent recruiters at the moment.
“Bowling Green and Michigan have been there since day one. My trainer talks to them I think every single week honestly. Every week they talk and he gives me an update on all that,” Irwin said.
On Michigan specifically, their coaching staff took immediate interest following his appearance at their elite camp in June.
“When I was at their camp, I talked to the coaches and they want to have me down for a football game visit and walk around a little bit,” Irwin said.
Bowling Green has also invited him for a football game and he will “definitely” take both schools up on that invite.
Also, for any elite prospect, AAU shoe circuit programs have expressed interest in acquiring Irwin for his 16U season. Irwin tells us he’s unsure of what the plan will be for next spring and summer. He emphasized that he’s not fixated on any of that right now, rather focused on daily improvement and high school ball.