I count Scout.com west coast basketball analyst Josh Gershon (@JoshGershon), as one of the top in his field, on either coast. Josh brings a wealth of knowledge to the table and displays a keen eye for talent. With the 2012-13 season just around the corner, he was willing to sacrifice some free time and knock out the following Q&A:
1. For those not familiar with your work, what led to your involvement with Scout.com, and what’s the scope of your current position?
I’ve been around the business for about 10 years and learned a lot about it with my previous job covering Arizona. I’ve always had a passion for evaluating basketball talent and have been very lucky to meet some great scouting mentors who have really helped me learn the business. There’s a lot that goes into the job, from writing, scouting, building and maintaining contacts, video editing, on camera work, etc., and I think over time I was able to prove myself as someone that could bring a wide variety of skills to FOX Sports and Scout.com. That would sum up a lot of what I do now, but to put it simply I focus on covering the West Coast and have an increasing role nationally as I’ve seen more of the players around the country.
2. Would you count yourself a sports fan employed as a writer, or a writer assigned to cover sports?
Without a doubt I’m a sports fan employed as a writer. If I didn’t have this job and worked 9 to 5 in a cubicle, I feel like this is what I would want to do for fun on the side. Technically I work a lot of hours, but it never feels like work to me. I love what I do.
3. Of the coaches and/or players whom you have interviewed, which would you consider the most intriguing/memorable? Why?
The most memorable interview I’ve done hasn’t been with a college coach or player, but with Bill Murray. I spent like 30 to 45 minutes arguing with him about basketball which was obviously an amazing experience.
4. Of the High school or college coaches/players whom you have yet to sit down with, which would you most like to interview? Why?
I can’t think of anyone specifically but in general I will say that I love talking to former coaches and scouts who were known as great evaluators and learning as much as I can from them. There are lessons to be learned in every player and while I watch as much basketball and do as much research as possible, hearing success and failure stories from others is something I always cherish.
5. Scout.com has the following compromising the site’s Top 10 basketball recruits (2012): #1 Nerlens Noel, #2 Shabazz Muhammad, #3 Isaiah Austin, #4 Kyle Anderson, #5 Steven Adams, #6 Kaleb Tarczewski, #7 Alex Poythress, #8 Anthony Bennett, #9 Grant Jerrett, and #10 Brandon Ashley. What’s the Josh Gershon Top 10, and which player (listed or otherwise) do you expect to most impact his collegiate team (2012-13)?
I didn’t get the chance to evaluate the 2012 class from the time they were freshmen the way Evan Daniels and Brian Snow did, so I had a minimal role in non-West Coast rankings and wouldn’t feel comfortable re-ranking those guys. That said, if Shabazz Muhammad is eligible, I would assume he’ll have by far the biggest impact on his team and be one of the top players in the country right away. I haven’t seen Nerlens Noel as much as Evan and Brian so I don’t know about his long term potential one way or the other – although I completely trust their judgement – but I know what kind of player Muhammad is and if he’s cleared, he should big up very big numbers right away, more-so than anyone else in our Top 10.
6. You are asked to field a D1 basketball team (1-5) comprised of Class of 2012 players. Who makes the grade, and why?
7. Same question(s) as the previous, utilizing the Class of 2013 talent pool.
8. Class of 2012: At the D1 level, and excluding any players ranked within Scout’s Top 100, which player(s) most bear(s) watching, and why?
My choice would be Marqueze Coleman, but we squeezed him into the final 2012 Top 100. The guys not ranked in the Top 100 who have the most potential to make us look bad later are Demarquise Johnson, Marvelle Harris, Wesley Gordon and Skylar Spencer. I really liked all four players but it’s tough to get everyone into the Top 100. All of those guys are that caliber prospects and I expect them to be good players in college.
9. A year from today, which High school basketball player currently not ranked within Scout’s 2013 Top 100, is most likely to crack the list, and how high might he rise?
We really wanted Elliott Pitts and Tyree Robinson in the Top 100 but just ran out of room, so I would say one of those two has the best chance to reappear down the road. They will definitely be closely evaluated during their senior seasons.
10. Utilizing the Class of 2013 talent pool, list your go to guy for the following (time is expiring and the score is tied)
Drive the lane and find the open man for the game winning shot attempt: Marcus Allen
Spot up from 3, and take the shot: Zach LaVine
Drive the lane and attempt to finish: Jabari Bird
Post-up and attempt to finish: Aaron Gordon
Defend the opposition’s top perimeter player: Dakarai Allen
Defend the opposition’s top interior player: Marcus Lee
11. Is there anything about Josh Gershon folks should know, but probably do not?
This is one of those jobs where unfortunately you often have to put up a wall, but I would say that my personality away from the job and Twitter is much different than many would assume. I’m definitely a jokester and also an opinionated dude that is never shy to share an opinion on anything, whether it be with politics or anything else. But the biggest thing I would say about me is that the greatest joy I get from this job isn’t reporting on the high major kids, but the rare chance when my reporting on a kid that maybe schools didn’t know about helps him get a scholarship. Helping kids realize their dream of playing college basketball is as gratifying as anything I’ve ever done professionally and hopefully I can continue to have that kind of positive influence.