By Zack Penn — STAFF WRITER
Hofstra men’s basketball has needed a physical, energetic glue-guy for years and they may have finally found what they have been looking for in senior graduate-transfer, Joel Angus III.
Angus is exactly the type of gritty grinder that could help take last year’s 15-17 team to new heights. “I’m a ‘do it all’ kind of guy,” Angus said. “I’m an energy guy, a hustle player; I get second chance opportunities. I’m just a mismatch for most other teams on the court.”
But this 6-foot-6-inch, 240-pound forward did not just appear on Hofstra’s team out of thin air. Hofstra is his fourth stop in five years on a long, adversity-filled journey that puts a chip on his shoulder.
The Brooklyn native started his college career at Westchester Community College before transferring to Monroe College in the Bronx. There, he led his team in scoring and rebounds, while eventually taking them to the promised land as victors of the National Junior College Athletic Association Region XV Championship.
“Transitioning from high school to JuCo [Junior College]was a big jump,” Angus said. “I was playing with 23-year-olds while I was barely 18 and that really helped my game. I still have that chip on my shoulder. I still identify with the JuCo life.”
Angus parlayed his impressive stint at Monroe College to an offer to play at Southeast Missouri State, a small Ohio Valley Conference team. He immediately assumed a starting spot and went on to rank No. 2 on the team in scoring, rebounds and blocks.
Going into his senior season at Southeast Missouri State, Angus was named team captain and was tasked with helping assimilate eight new faces on his team. However, just nine minutes into his senior season, the power forward suffered a hip injury that would sideline him for the duration of the year and force him to take a medical redshirt.
“Honestly the rehab process sucked,” Angus explained. “Since it was a hip injury I couldn’t do anything but lay in bed for the first two weeks and that made it tough to make my way back.”
After going through the rehab process and graduating from Southeast Missouri State last spring, Angus decided he would like to transfer closer to home to finish his college career. But he didn’t want to simply transfer to any local school.
“Hofstra just has a specific, special way of doing things,” he said. “Everybody is on board, everybody is in unison. This team has a good chance to compete and to win and that was big for me, so everything just worked out.”
It may indeed be a perfect marriage. Hofstra could absolutely use Angus’ veteran moxie as they try to capture their first CAA championship. Hofstra returns their top three stars in Justin Wright-Foreman, Eli Pemberton and Rokas Gustys, meaning that Angus does not need to have a starring role or be the captain – he just needs to contribute.
In the Pride’s opening game against Army West-Point, Angus proved that he does indeed fit in perfectly with this team. He ended the game with 13 points and eight rebounds in 36 minutes while shooting a tidy 7-8 from the charity stripe. As Army tried to flummox the Pride throughout the game with a full-court press, Angus was tasked with breaking down traps and bringing the ball up the court on many possessions.
That sort of calm, steadying presence is something the Pride were missing last season that could help them close out victories this year.
“I bring a different element to this team,” Angus said. “Nowadays a lot of power forwards are trying to emulate the European style, so a lot of them are more of shooters and are less physical. So that’s what I bring, that toughness and physicality. Smaller guards usually aren’t strong enough to guard me and bigger guys are usually too slow.”
In this sense, Angus hopes to have a Draymond Green-esque effect on the team as the do-everything who makes the right play and better the rest of the team.
Hofstra already has a clear go-to scorer (Wright-Foreman), a clear head honcho on the boards (Gustys), and an underclassmen dynamo who was on the CAA All-Rookie team last year (Pemberton). Now, they add a dynamic veteran presence who will do everything in his power to improve the team.
“I may not be the captain of this team, but that doesn’t really change anything. I’m still a vocal leader and I’m still helping the younger guys on the team to get better,” Angus said. “I just try to be me. Role doesn’t really change anything.”