Everywhere you can find a basketball hoop, you can find a hometown hero who dominates it. It is not too common, however, to find someone who is chasing the legacy of the hometown hero, and in some ways has already passed him. Joe Girard III has found a way to be one of these seldom few. Hailing from Glens Falls, NY, the same hometown as fellow hoopster Jimmer Fredette, Girard has some big shoes to fill, but does not seemed phased by any pressure. Fredette himself has even noted, telling the NY Post, “He’s way ahead of what I was at his age.”
Girard, a varsity athlete in both football and basketball, has been hailed by many as one of the best three-point shooters in high school right now. In three years at Glens Falls High School, Girard has already broken the all-time New York scoring record of 2,946 points, previously set by Lance Stephenson (Abraham Lincoln High School, Brooklyn) in 2009. Currently only a junior, he averaged 50 points per game this season and surpassed 3,000 career points.
Recently, SLAM had the opportunity to speak with Joe Girard III, his father Joe Girard Jr., and one of his coaches, Terrell Dozier.
“It’s easy for a kid, you know when they have success early on in their career, to coast. [Joe’s] still working like he hasn’t made it yet,” says Dozier. Girard III’s humility, which his coach spoke of, showed during our 1-on-1 interview with the young stud.
SLAM: When did you first fall in love with the sport of basketball?
Joe Girard III: I just kind of grew up around it. My dad, at the time when I was growing up, was a high school girls’ basketball coach. When he was at practice I’d just be shooting hoops, and I think it’s just a passion that I always had. I just grew up liking it and worked hard at it.
SLAM: What are some things you hope to achieve through the sport of basketball?
JG: I want to play college basketball at the highest level that I can, and then just take it from there and play professional basketball. Obviously NBA is the goal, but if not, overseas still getting paid to do it, making my passion my job.
SLAM: Who are some of your biggest inspirations on and off the court?
JG: I’d definitely say Jimmer Fredette, definitely a big one. Coming from the same high school that I do, he’s generally a great basketball player, and people usually like to say that he is a better person than he is a basketball player. So you know, I pick up a lot of stuff off the court from Jimmer just like I do on the court. Obviously my mom and dad as well, and my grandparents. They are great role models, teaching me the right ways to be a good kid and to be an overall good scholar-athlete.
SLAM: What would you say is the best part of your game, and what would you say is the part that needs the most improvement?
JG: Oh I’d say right now the best part of my game is my shooting and scoring, but I do not like being labeled as just a shooter so I work on all the parts of scoring, whether it’s driving to the hoop or pulling up for a pull-up jump shot…but that’s definitely the best thing about my game right now. As for what I need to work on, I just need to keep working on everything, like ball handling, playing good defense, and even my jump shot and scoring. That just comes with time, putting in the work, and I have a feeling that if I do that I’m going to keep getting better every day.
SLAM: If you could play anybody one-on-one, past or present, who would it be and why?
JG: I would probably say Dwyane Wade, just because he’s my favorite player, and a lot of the moves he does are really cool. Like, you’ll see him put a quick pump fake on someone and have them run right by him, and then go in for a layup some way. I just like to learn a lot from him, and he does a lot of cool things on the court that are really astonishing and I just like to learn from him.
Girard’s future is nothing short of bright. With another year of high school to go, he has basketball scholarship offers from Syracuse, Oklahoma, Michigan, and several other division I programs. He’s already won state championships in both football and basketball (including as a two-way starter on the football team), and will surely close out his high school career impressively before moving on to the next chapter.