Joe Schneider has always looked like a basketball player, but he didn’t always play.
“I started playing my freshman year,” the 6-foot-10 big man from Longmeadow, Mass., said. “I’ve always been tall, but I played soccer.”
Youth coaches tried to get him on the court, but he always rebuffed their requests in order to spend more time on the pitch.
“I just didn’t really like it that much,” the 2015 prospect said.
But that changed when he finally gave in to his mother’s request to gp out for the team when he entered Longmeadow High School two years ago.
“I got better,” said Schneider. “I picked it up pretty fast. I’m a lot better.”
And he’s convinced all of the time he spent playing soccer has helped him pick up his new sport so quickly.
“I think so, definitely the footwork,” he said. “Soccer helps a ton with footwork and being in shape.”
Schneider’s athleticism is his biggest strength at this point, which is a bit surprising given his height and late arrival to the sport.
“Definitely rebounding and blocking and defense mainly,” Schnieder said of what he feels are his strengths. “I’m working a lot on my back-to-the-basket stuff.”
Schneider is set to continue his basketball education as he transfers to nearby Wilbraham & Monson Academy for his junior year, when he’ll play for head coach Chris Sparks.
“That coach has helped me out a ton,” Schneider said of Sparks. “He just taught me a bunch of stuff I hadn’t been taught.”
Schneider got a good look at how stiff the competition can be when he joined the New England Playaz AAU squad this summer. He got an even closer glimpse on Tuesday night when the Playaz took on the Under-20 Russian National Team in an exhibition at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield.
He’ll take another step up in competition at Wilbraham & Monson, where he’ll be teammates with Goodluck Okonoboh, one of the elite prospects in the 2014 class.
“I don’t know completely what I’m going to be going up against, but going up against Goodluck every day in practice, that’s going to be fun,” Schneider laughed.
Schneider started hearing from colleges after an impressive performance at Columbia’s camp this summer. Columbia offered and several other Ivy League schools showed serious interest along with Boston College, Rhode Island and Northwestern among others.
Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey saw Schneider play in Las Vegas last month and while offers aren’t really official at this point, Brey did make it clear the Irish were as interested as Columbia.
“I actually had no idea it was going to happen,” said Schneider. “I hadn’t heard from them or anything. I was like, ‘What? Really?’”
Schneider doesn’t know much about the Irish basketball program at this point, but does believe Notre Dame could be a fit for what he’s looking for in a college.
“I also want a good education, but I want to go as far as I can go basketball-wise.”