On Saturday, Steve Reaven of the Chicago Tribune watched local track star Joseph Toye dominate the Public League team championships. The Whitney Young freshman won the triple jump and long jump events, carrying his school to the title.
“Toye wasn’t around to celebrate with his team,” Reaven wrote. “He left shortly after finishing his day’s work … to play in an AAU basketball tournament.”
So, Toye–a three-star 2015 small forward–packed his belongings and traveled to Fort Wayne, Indiana. He arrived at the Spiece Run N Slam in time to help the Illinois Celtics U16 team hold off Playground Elite for a memorable upset.
“I love playing with Joe Toye,” teammate Aaron Jordan said. “He just came off of a track meet, and still came out and gave us the energy.”
Toye didn’t just compete. He thrived in the dynamic Celtics offense, scoring 27 points in the 64-52 win. The team, which boasts several perimeter threats, relies on sharp execution and ball movement to succeed. They also showcase Jordan and Toye—one of the best scoring combinations at the 16U level.
Despite the emotionally tense atmosphere, Toye delivered some daggers in the final stretch. He grew more confident as the game progressed, knocking down a handful of second-half jumpers.
With Myles Carter holding down the interior and Aaron Jordan acting as facilitator, Toye carried the offense. When the Playground Elite coach became frustrated–before getting ejected–the Celtics took advantage.
“We have mature players,” Toye said. “We all just took it in and didn’t let that affect us.”
Toye, of course, is no stranger to the big stage. Two summers ago, he earned an ESPN shout-out after winning the AAU Club Nationals young men’s long jump event. He’s competed in the Junior Olympics, and this athleticism carries over to the court.
At 6-7, Toye primarily attacks the basket. He’s an established pure scorer with great leaping ability (of course) and a lights-out mid-range jumper. Though there are potential areas for improvement, Toye thinks he can address them and round out his strong game.
“I’m working a lot on my ball handling,” he said. “I’ve been working hard on the court so I can get more rebounds.”
Well, no one’s questioning his impressive work ethic. Toye, Jordan and KJ Santos visited Northwestern and briefly met with Chris Collins. It was one of the first true signs of NU interest.
“I talked to [Coach] Hardy when we were on the visit,” Toye said. “He said he’d like to start recruiting me.”
DePaul, Illinois, Virginia Tech, Providence and Valparaiso have also shown interest.
Another interesting note: Toye loved Welsh-Ryan Arena. Normally one downside of the recruitment process, he saw himself playing in the quaint arena that could easily double as his high-school gym.
“I really like the campus and the environment in the gym,” he said. It also had to help that his teammates were on hand.
It’s another demonstration of the successful Hardy-Collins recruiting efforts thus far. They invited three local prospects with impressive potential and are staying aggressive in their recruitment.
NU fans, for quite some time, have been longing for pure athletes. It’s surprising when players dunk, to be frank. With Toye’s NU recruitment beginning to intensify, however, this might become a thing of the past.
He’s a national champion and pure scorer who loves Welsh-Ryan Arena. Well, are you sold yet?