Michigan 5-star basketball target Joshua Christopher expects 'real suspenseful' decision

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

Where will Joshua Christopher go?

It’s a question that has Michigan fans on pins and needles, and that’s just how the five-star guard out of Lakewood, California, likes it.

Five-star guard Joshua Christopher has Michigan among his finalists.

"I like to keep the suspense going,” Christopher said on “The Michigan Basketball Insider” podcast. “I don't really give people too much. I think the decision should be real suspenseful. I think when I make my decision they should be like, 'Oh my gosh, what?'

“Like a lot of mixed emotions. Some people are going to hate me, some people are going to love me, but that's just part of it.”

Michigan is among the short list of programs that are still in the running for Christopher, who is ranked the nation’s No. 10 overall recruit in the 247Sports composite and is one of the top uncommitted prospects in the 2020 class.

But as of late, it appears the Wolverines have pulled out in front and are emerging as the favorite. Recruiting sites like Rivals and 247Sports have tabbed Michigan as the likely landing spot over fellow finalists Arizona State, Missouri and UCLA.

The upward trend comes after Christopher took official visits to Arizona State and UCLA last month, well after he visited Ann Arbor in November during the weekend of the Houston Baptist game.

"That block ‘M’ means something to them,” Christopher said. “When you step on that Michigan court or any kind of Michigan atmosphere, it's going to be crazy. The fans there really ride for their guys. When (coach) Juwan (Howard) walked in the gym, the crowd started going crazy. The spirit there is ridiculous."

After Howard was hired in May 2019, Christopher received Howard’s first reported offer back in June.

However, Christopher said he “always liked” and “had eyes” on Michigan well before then because he was a fan of former Wolverines D.J. Wilson, who is also from California, and Jordan Poole.

"Then Juwan got the job and I was the first kid that he offered. So it's kind of like, OK, you rock with me as soon as you get the job so I'm going to rock with you,” Christopher said.

Michigan already has four commits and one signee in its 2020 recruiting class that ranks No. 4 in the nation, per 247Sports. The quintet is highlighted by five-star forward Isaiah Todd, who has participated in USA Basketball Junior National Team minicamps with Christopher the past few years.

Christopher noted having preexisting relationships with some of his future college teammates matters to him. He cited Todd and five-star forward Greg Brown, who took an official visit to Michigan last weekend, both by name.

“You want to be at a place where you're comfortable,” Christopher said. “Of course, you want to make friends, but you also want to be in a position where you know people that you have a relationship with already…That plays a big part, too.”

Christopher added there are several other factors that will also weigh into his decision.

► A lively and energetic college atmosphere: “I want to be able to fill up gyms every game. Not just the big games, but every game."

► A place where he feels at home: “(I’m looking for) people that I can just relate to, so I can just have fun in college no matter how long I'm there — one year, two years, four years."

► A coach who his going to get the best out of him: “I think any coach that didn't push me while I'm in his program is doing me a disservice and also doing himself a disservice. I want someone who is going to want me to be great as well as myself wanting to be great.” 

Christopher (6-foot-5, 215 pounds) said he’s versatile enough to play on or off the ball at the college level so “wherever Coach needs me to be for us to win, I’ll play that spot.” He’s done a little bit of everything during his senior year at Mayfair High.

He noted all the coaches on his final list are “people persons” and “down-to-earth," and he likes the fiery demeanor of Arizona State’s Bobby Hurley and Missouri’s Cuonzo Martin. (Christopher also has familial ties to both schools. His older brother Caleb plays for the Sun Devils and his cousin Nicodemus Christopher is the strength coach for the Tigers.)

When it comes to Howard, Christopher called him a “great dude.”

“I think he's a real selfless person. He doesn't have to be like that,” Christopher said. “He knows the game. Great connections I'm sure. I think he texted Michael Jordan one day I was with him. I was like, 'Whoa, that's Jordan.'

“He wants to win like I do, and he knows the game."

Christopher said he hasn’t heard from UCLA since close friend Shareef O’Neal announced his decision to transfer last month. However, Christopher said he hasn’t “made too much of that” and would still “be open to listen to them” if they reach out.

As the suspense continues to grow with each passing day, Christopher said he's still considering his options and isn’t in a rush to make his college choice. 

But when the time is right, he — and everyone else — will finally know.

“I don't even have a commitment date yet,” Christopher said. “I'm just soaking it all up, playing high school and then we'll see. When my season ends, that's when I might release a date.

“Or I might just do it real randomly. I might just shock the world one day and then you'll see it. I don't know. We're going to see.”


Twitter: @jamesbhawkins