Miami goes Down Under for latest hoop recruit

Joshua Oswald will be coming a long way to boost Miami University’s men’s basketball fortunes.

Oswald signed a national letter of intent to attend MU in November and has already graduated from high school in Melbourne, Australia, where he helped Caulfield Grammar School win gold at the Australian Schools Championships in December.

“I am nervous about living in a different country, but I am also excited about the new opportunities that will arise from being in a different country,” Oswald said in an email interview from his home in Werribee, a suburb of Melbourne.

Miami associate head coach Rick Duckett said the RedHawks are getting a top-notch player in the 6-foot-7, 210-pound forward, who averaged 22.0 points and 11.5 rebounds per game as a senior.

“I think he has a tremendous amount of confidence in understanding how the team game of basketball is played,” Duckett said. “He’s going to do a lot of positive things when he gets here.”

Duckett has developed numerous connections in Australia through the years and was head coach John Cooper’s point man in the recruitment of Oswald.

“I’ve been to Australia many times,” Duckett said. “I wish I could go on vacation, but they’ve all been for scouting.”

How exactly did he find Oswald?

“I didn’t know his particular high school coach, but I did know a couple other coaches over there,” said Duckett, who also coached under Cooper at Tennessee State. “So I stayed in touch and said, ‘Hey, I’m at Miami now. I’d like to know if there’s any players in the area.’ Coincidentally, the name that came up was Joshua Oswald when he emailed me.

“It was kind of a nice connection where they gave me a name, and the kid had just started sending out information to colleges. I contacted his high school coach and started talking to him, and the next thing I know I was talking to some of the people he worked out with and got tape on him, and it just sort of fell in place. Then we got him over here for a visit, and he loved it.”

Oswald competed in four tournaments in the United States in 2011 — two in California, two in Texas — and was twice an all-tourney selection. He visited Miami last September.

“I was extremely impressed from the minute I arrived,” Oswald said. “The people at Miami were very friendly and welcoming, and the facilities were amazing.”

Duckett plans to head down to Australia to watch Oswald in summer league competition. From what he’s seen on tape, the Miami coach said he would compare Oswald to current RedHawk Jon Harris.

“I think he’s going to be really good on the perimeter,” Duckett said. “He’s going to be able to stretch the defense and score the basketball from the perimeter, and he’ll be a guy that’s able to go inside against smaller players because he does have length and the ability to score inside.”

Oswald describes himself like this: “I’m able to play both inside and outside. I play inside when smaller players are defending me, and I play outside when I get the bigger, slower players guarding me. I would describe myself as quite a physical player when playing basketball.”

Oswald said the biggest difference between Australian and American basketball is that the U.S. game involves more athleticism.

Duckett said Australian basketball is dominated by perimeter players, but that’s slowly changing.

“More Americans are going over to Australia to coach than at any other time,” Duckett said. “So what you’re getting now is players learning to adapt to the American game of basketball. Not only can they shoot the ball, which is one of the things they learned very young, but they’re learning how to play an American style of using screens, using ballhandling to get into the lane, and then rebounding and transition basketball.”

Oswald, 18, said he’s in regular contact with Miami’s coaches and keeps track of how the team is doing. He has a 21-year-old brother and an 11-year-old sister.

“My parents are excited and sad at the same time,” Oswald said. “Excited for the opportunities that I will receive, but sad that I will be leaving home.”

He plans to study business and major in accounting at Miami.

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