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GREENSBORO — Josh Scovens always took his Papa’s advice.

He was 7 when his maternal grandfather, Dr. Willie Gilchrist, now the former chancellor of Elizabeth City State University, told him, “In order to be the man, you have to be organized.”

For Josh, that advice worked. He now keeps his to-do list on his iPhone. He checks it every hour or so. He wants to make sure he remembers his every assignment at the Middle College at N.C. A&T and the time of his basketball practice at Page High, his home school.

It has paid off.


Josh Scovens, valedictorian of the Middle College at N.C. A&T, plans to major in biology at the U.S. Military Academy, the prestigious institution known as West Point. He’ll also play for the basketball team.

Josh graduated about two weeks ago from the school as its valedictorian. Next fall, he’ll major in biology and start at the U.S. Military Academy, the prestigious institution known as West Point.

Josh wants to be a pediatrician. But first, he’ll be a basketball player for the Black Knights of West Point.

Josh received a full athletic scholarship. He played for Page High, and he can play. He received All Conference honors as well as being named to the News & Record’s first team All-Area.

According to Phenom Hoops, a North Carolina website that assesses high school talent, Josh “possesses a long, fluid frame with sharp defensive anticipation, excellent rebounding instincts, and the necessary polish to handle the ball in transition.”

Now, back to his maternal grandfather. He’s given Josh more than just advice. He’s given his grandson a nickname: Giraffe.

“Because I am so tall,” Josh responds. “He’s called me that since I was 10.”

Josh stands 6-foot-6. But his height didn’t make him serious about basketball.

COVID-19 did.

The heartache of hoops

During the spring of his sophomore year, Josh began looking at basketball much differently. The global pandemic convinced school officials to send every Guilford County student home to keep them healthy.


Josh Scovens graduated May 26 as the valedictorian of the Middle College at N.C. A&T. He has received a full athletic scholarship to play basketball at West Point.

Computers soon turned into a classroom, and Josh found he had free time and a lot of time to think. About academics. And about basketball. He wanted to get better, be one of the best players in the city, and he wanted to play Division 1 basketball.

In the spring of 2020, though, Josh was nowhere close.

He had played for three AAU teams. But his play didn’t capture anyone’s attention. On one AAU team, the only attention Josh captured were yells from the coach and time on the bench. He was in sixth grade, and he barely played.

As a freshman, he made the JV basketball team at Southeast Guilford, the first high school he attended. In a game against Eastern Guilford, Josh grabbed a rebound and came down hard on his left knee.

He dislocated his knee cap. That injury kept him out of basketball for an entire year.

His sophomore year, Josh transferred to Page High. He stood 6-foot-3 and made the Page varsity basketball team. He hoped for a better season. But he didn’t burn up the court. He averaged 3.3 points and less than three rebounds per game. Page finished 16-12.

Up to that time, Josh had his share of coaches and players who doubted his talent. But he remembers what Jermaine McCain, one of his teachers at the Middle College, told him when he was a sophomore.

“One day, it will come together,” McCain told Josh.

Then came COVID-19.

Josh turned his free time into training time.

The hard work begins

Josh trained five days a week, starting at 6:30 a.m. He began at Triad Basketball Academy in Greensboro and met a man he called Coach Rob, one of his former AAU coaches. They did a series of drills before Josh slipped on a mask and played games with college players until 8 a.m.

Afterward, Josh dove into his schoolwork. Hours later, he dove back to basketball.

At 1:30, he returned to Triad Basketball Academy to lift weights, run sprints, run a mile on the track and do defensive slides full court.

If he couldn’t make the early afternoon training session, Josh would work out at 6 p.m. with Coach Pooh, a man Josh met through another one of his AAU teams.

Coach Pooh became his exercise drill sergeant. They’d meet up at either the track at Page High or Dudley High, and Josh ran. He ran a lot — the mile, the stairs, just everything. And he ran through loads of agility drills.

At 8 p.m., Josh returned to the Triad Basketball Academy for two hours of shooting drills with Coach Rob.

Josh did that Monday through Friday for 10 months.

“I fell in love with basketball,” Josh says today. “I realized this is what I love to do, and I was getting better and better and better, and I kept thinking, ‘Man, I can be really good at this. There is no stopping now.’”

Josh had that same determination about school. But Josh really didn’t want to go to the Middle College at A&T.

At least not at first.

The Middle College mantra

Josh is the youngest of two boys. His dad, Nathan, is a pastor; his mom, Wyvondalynn, is a nurse. She brought up the idea of Josh going to the Middle College. She really wanted him to go there. But Josh? Not so much.

He didn’t want to go to a school with all boys. Plus, to get into the Middle College, he had to write a paper. And if he got in, he had to get to school earlier. Then, every Wednesday, he had to wear khakis, a blue blazer, a collar shirt, and an A&T tie.

But as weeks turned into months, Josh warmed up to the Middle College. He didn’t mind wearing a blazer and tie. Matter of fact, he liked it. He liked looking professional. He also liked taking college classes at A&T.

Over his four years, Josh has accumulated 32 credit hours in courses for biology, math, history, and a class known as “Philosophy and Moral Problems.”

He also became more disciplined, and with his grandfather’s help, he became more organized. His iPhone organizer helped, especially during basketball season.

“Going to high school every day is discipline by itself, but especially at the Middle College,” Josh says. “You have to remember to come to school presentable, and when you’re taking college classes, you have to take care of your own business. Not Mommy or Daddy. If you miss an assignment, that’s on you.”

Along one of the halls at the Middle College is the school’s 10-sentence creed. Those sentences include these directives:

I will commit to excellence.

I will speak with intelligence.

I will value my education, I will go to college.

Josh’s favorite? I will be respectful of myself and others.

“A&T is big on brotherhood, and my friends, we’re so close with one another,” he says. “I love to see all my guys in blazers. We all look great, we’re making good grades, and we all know what really matters at our school.

“As soon as you walk in, you see the Creed on the wall and boom! The Creed tells you what the school goes by. It’s what the school believes in.”

‘The best feeling in the world’

Josh’s hard work during the pandemic paid off.

By his junior season at Page, Josh grew to be 6-foot-5, and he averaged 12 points a game along with five rebounds and one blocked shot per game.

By his senior year, Josh grew another inch and became an even bigger force on the basketball court. He averaged more than 20 points a game along with two steals, three blocks and nearly seven rebounds a game.

College recruiters began contacting him the summer before his senior year. That included West Point. Coaches from the U.S. Military Academy saw him play at a camp in Winston-Salem that summer and began talking to Josh several times a week.

West Point saw in Josh a player who fit the mold of a West Point cadet: great grades, stellar character, and innate leadership skills. Plus, Josh could really ball.

In all, Josh had 22 schools contact him about playing basketball. But Josh saw West Point as special. The school offered him a basketball scholarship in October, he visited the school in December, and, on the first Monday in January, Josh called West Point’s head basketball coach Jimmy Allen.

Josh said yes.

“It was the best feeling in the world,” Josh says about making that decision. “Just proving your doubters wrong is just great, especially when someone says you can’t do something. That is the best feeling.

“And now, I’ll get to play D-1 ball for free at West Point, one of the most prestigious institutions in the world. That is something I want to be a part of.”