CARENCRO — UL basketball got its 2021 recruiting class off to a roaring start last week when the Cajuns collected a commitment from versatile Carencro High School star Joseph Charles.
During his first two seasons at Carencro, Charles has helped the Bears to a Class 4A state title, the program's first in school history, and a semifinal finish earlier this year.
"Joe has been such an instrumental student-athlete for us already just in two years," Carencro coach Christopher Kovatch said.
"We've had some good players that have come through here, and Joe has set the bar already for a standard of excellence as both an individual and as a teammate."
As a freshman, Charles was playing at a high level before his season was cut short.
"He started the first 20 games of his freshman year before an injury sidelined him," Kovatch said. "That was tough for him, as a freshman, to not be able to contribute to the team's success the rest of the way.
"He had such an impact early on. It was a bigger impact than we thought we were going to get, and we expected a lot out of him as a ninth-grader."
It would be fair to say Charles burst onto the scene in his first varsity action.
"We played Scotlandville his first true game as a ninth-grader, and he blocked a couple of Javonte Smart's first shots of the game," Kovatch said.
"Here's a freshman knocking away one of the best players in the nation's shots. Joe has some innate abilities that are just scary."
Charles measured 6-feet, 4½ inches as a freshman. He currently stands 6-7½ with his junior year set to begin in several days.
"Last season Joe was MVP of the district," Kovatch said. "He was first-team all-state. After losing basically six kids from the state championship team, we got back to the Top 28.
"Joe had such a big part in that. He put up great numbers all year. I think it was over 17 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and three steals per game, and it was almost quiet to a certain extent because he's not a guy who is going to come down and jack up shots."
Kovatch said Charles has some similar characteristics to a former Carencro player.
"Joe is a lot like Patrick Richard, who played for us years ago and is still playing pro basketball," he said. "They're very similar, not so much in playing style but in who they are on the court.
"They're both selfless, almost to a fault. They make their team so much better because they're so selfless. Joe never wants it to be about him. He wants it to be about Carencro basketball winning state championships."
Charles can play all five positions on the court, Kovatch said.
"Joe's versatility is one of our greatest assets," Kovatch said. "He has the vision of a point guard, the shooting ability of a pure shooting guard, he's the best passer I've ever coached, and, with his length, he can play either of the forward positions and center.
"That's why he's going to be such an asset in college. He's a 6-8 kid who can shoot the heck out of the ball. I know college coaches love that about him."
After watching the Cajuns practice last week, Charles told the coaching staff he was ready to make his plans known.
"I felt it was best to go ahead and commit because they showed the most interest and told me what I liked to hear," he said. "I wanted to be close to home and I love the coaches.
"I also love how coach (Bob) Marlin lets them play. When they mess up, he just tells them to get back on defense and make up for it."