Former Crusader continues NBA D-League tryouts

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“Although Josh Stein said he plans to join the Sauk Valley (IL) Predators of the Premier League, he may continue to explore other professional basketball options, including tryouts with the NBA-affiliated D-League.”

One of those tryouts occurred this past weekend with a handful of other players, some having played in the Big Ten.

The workout consisted of several 2-3 hour practices focusing on general athletic abilities and basketball IQ.

Stein said. “The workouts are also designed to see how you adapt to different positions. For instance, I played post in college but a lot of players when they advance to the pros are asked to adapt and play different positions.”

He also acknowledged the need to stay within your talent level.

“The first part of the workouts, I played hard trying to prove my worth as a perimeter player, but as the day went on the role as a physical presence on defense and rebounds, developed at Maranatha, came out.”

A coach approached Stein after one of the workouts asking where he played college basketball. Stein explained that he had played for a DIII school named Maranatha and in reply the coach remarked about the hard work ethic of DIII players.

“He told me that many DIII players, since they don’t get paid to play are very disciplined and hard working. He also said that it doesn’t matter which division of the NCAA you come from, just as long as you can play ball you’re fine,” Stein remarked.

The 6’7” bruiser also recognizes the demands associated with being a student-athlete. He graduated as a Biology major with a pre-medical track and is finishing up training as an EMT, rescue diver and firefighter. Stein plans to attend medical school and is in the process of sending out applications.

In looking back on his balanced lifestyle Stein remarks,

“When I was at Maranatha I would work 30-40 hours a week and play basketball. I noticed that DIII players have split priorities but play the game because they love it. It’s not given to us so we have to work hard.”

Perhaps it was this type of character and work ethic that impressed his coach when Stein thanked him for a shot at an NBA D-League tryout.

“When I thanked him for giving me the opportunity he was actually surprised. He told me that not too many kids come up to him and do that,” Stein explained.

The door to professional basketball opened only when he realized what an NCAAIII school like Maranatha provides by stating,

“After being with several DI schools I realized I had more opportunity at Maranatha to play then I did with a Division I team. Had I stayed at any of those schools, I might not be where I’m at right now.”

Other factors played into Stein’s coming to Maranatha as he pointed out, “Being around family was one reason I decided to come back, but also the prospect of playing under the new head coach at the time, Neal Ring.”

Coach Ring stated, “I’m proud of Josh and how he has taken these two years here in academics, spiritual life and athletics and used it for this opportunity beyond college. Josh was a consistent post presence that gave us a chance to compete in the NAC.”

Speaking of presence, Maranatha’s assistant coach, Jeff Borchardt became a major influence as Josh recalls, “I’ve known Coach Borchardt for the six years he has coached me-four in high school and he has been a stronghold in my life. He was a driving force and was always consistent, so whenever he said something it usually ended up being right.”

Stein proved in the end that even student athletes in the NCAAIII can achieve their dreams of playing professional basketball while shouldering the demands of a DIII school like Maranatha.

“The biggest thing I can tell others is that if playing basketball is your dream, then go to a DIII school and realize your potential. I gained confidence playing at Maranatha and learned to develop specific skill sets that were suited to my abilities.”

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