Carencro High School basketball standout Joseph Charles has been through his share of adversity in the past year, but he saw his hard work pay off Wednesday.
Not only did Charles have his junior season cut short by a knee injury, but now he's recovering from a leg injury suffered during the rehab process.
On Wednesday, though, his fighting spirit prevailed after signing a national letter of intent to play for the UL Ragin' Cajuns.
Charles committed to the Cajuns in August of 2019 after a breakout sophomore season in which he made first team all-state in helping the Golden Bears to the state title.
"This is a tremendous pickup for UL," coach Christopher Kovatch said. "He played through a serious injury last year in the games he could play until he had to have surgery. He's one of the most prolific players to come out of this area in a while.
"He started as a freshman and was all-state his sophomore year. He's gotten bigger, faster, stronger and has done nothing but grow his basketball IQ since that point."
Charles had offers from Texas Tech and Baylor, but he continued the trend of area athletes staying home.
"I'm really excited to play back home," Charles said. "UL showed a lot of interest in me and toward my family. They were there for me when I got hurt, and they encouraged me a lot. That's what set them apart."
Charles stands 6-foot-8 and is an all-around forward who excels on defense and shooting 3-pointers.
"(Charles) is by far one of the best defenders I've ever seen at the high school level," Kovatch said. "His basketball IQ is off the charts, and he shoots the 3 as good as just about anyone would believe. He can defend the one through the five in high school and has been bulking up a lot since last year. He's a great kid and a hard worker who would make any program better."
Charles is rehabbing his leg and hopes to be ready in January to make an impact in his senior season.
"My rehab is going great," he said. "My leg is looking better, it's just a mental mindset thing to get over the phase. It's made me stronger mentally and physically, and I'm really excited to come back and show what I can do. My goals are to learn more about the game, prepare myself for college and get a ring."
Kovatch said he believes Charles will make a major impact for UL.
"His skillset is by far there," Kovatch said. "He's only going to get better in college and has the ability to impact UL significantly. He was highly recruited by a lot of people. Coach (Bob) Marlin did a great job getting him to stay home. He'll have a lot of family cheering him on and will have a lot of local support when wearing the vermilion and white."
Charles is hoping to make an impact for the Cajuns as soon as he steps foot on campus. His goal to start as a true freshman.
"My goal is to play as a true freshman and to start," Charles said. "I feel like I'll make a major impact with my skillset and IQ toward the game. It feels amazing to be the first person in my family to go to college. It shows that hard work pays off."