Coach Duck Richards
Josh Pace Chases NBA Dream
August 18, 2010By Alan Richards of Griffin Grasshoppers
Josh Pace's basketball resume is quite impressive.
The former Griffin High basketball standout started on the Bears' varsity basketball team as a freshman, helping the team get to the Final Four that year and the Elite 8 as a senior.
As a sophomore at perennial basketball power Syracuse University, he helped the Orangemen win the national championship over Kansas in 2003.
After graduating from Syracuse in 2005, he worked out for several NBA teams and made it on the Utah Jazz' Summer League team. He was cut from the team before the regular season started.
Pace didn't fret - he packed his bags and headed to New Zealand, where in two years, he was named an All-Star and led his team to the league championship.
Still, no NBA offers came.
No worries, mate - Pace then played for the now-defunct Continental Basketball Association's East Kentucky Miners in 2007, leading the league in scoring.
Still, no NBA teams wanted him on their benches.
In the summer of 2008, Pace worked out for the NBA's Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers and Golden State Warriors. No offers came again, so Pace played a 10-month season for BC Kalev in Estonia and just happened to lead that team to the league championship.
So from 2003-2009, Pace has won three titles, led a pro league in scoring and been an All-Star in a foreign country.
And he can't at least make the bench of even a bad NBA team?
"There's some political things that happen in the NBA," said Pace, 26. "A lot of it depends on if the coaches like one thing another player can do that you may struggle with. Also the team's style of play is a big factor."
Pace said the rejection is frustrating, especially since NBA coaches and scouts may have looked at him as someone who wasn't 'the guy' when he came out of Syracuse.
"I was never the main guy on my teams - I always tried to be a team player, getting assists, rebounds, key buckets, etc.," he said. "I could've averaged 30 points a game and such, but that isn't my thing."
Some coaches and scouts have given him good advice on what he needs to do to make the NBA and others have harped on what he can't do, but through it all he's never lost his hunger and his confidence.
"You get good advice at times and you sometimes get negative feedback when you're trying to make the league," Pace said. "Some of the negativity is motivation for me to work even harder."
If he gets down, all Pace has to do is think about how hard his late high school basketball coach Ferris Qualls used to work him and he feels better.
"Coach Qualls was my guy - he was always on us to keep working. I'm never going to give up my NBA dream. I want to impress upon the young people, especially those here in Griffin, to make good grades in school and never give up on your dreams," said Pace, who had just finished working out at Griffin High. "I'm going to keep trying till the wheels fall off. I'm from Griffin - I've got too many people here rooting for me and wanting me to make it to the NBA."
Pace, a 6-foot-5 lefty, has some good news: He's getting good vibes from several NBA teams and is really concentrating on staying in the U.S. this year - he's even looking at trying to play in the NBA's Developmental League, which is a stepping stone to make NBA teams if a roster spot becomes available.
The NBADL is getting a new team next year and the opportunity for players to shine and get noticed in the 'D-League' is great, Pace said. He said his agent is in talks with NBADL team reps at the moment.
Pace, who's been home for the last two weeks, said he will most likely attend summer NBA workouts in July and see where they lead.
"The L.A. Clippers are interested in me and maybe the Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers as well. I feel that I'm a better player now; I've improved my jump shot and I'm trying to get even better on defense," he said. "I feel like it's my time."
Pace said NBA teams are looking at him to possibly play the point guard position, so he is working on his ball-handling skills and trying to add some weight to his 198-pound frame.
"I'm going to work even harder on my handles and probably get my weight up to 205 or so," he said. "Hopefully, that will increase my chances of sticking with a team as a 6-5 point guard."
Pace also said that with the down economy, the NBA may look at guys like him who may not demand as much money as others in the league.