Per CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein, Dru Joyce III will be joining the Cleveland State Men’s basketball program as an assistant. Joyce will be the third assistant new head coach Dennis Gates has hired, joining Rob Summers and Dickey Nutt.
Joyce, 34, has deep Northeast Ohio roots. He was born in Akron, Ohio and went to high school at St. Vincent-St. Mary. While there, Joyce was part of the historic ‘Fab Five’, winning the National Championship in 2003 and becoming close friends with LeBron James. Joyce is the son of Dru Joyce II, who was the head coach of St. Vincent-St. Mary at the time and still is.
Joyce played collegiately at Akron University for four years from 2003-2007, appearing in 123 games and starting in 101 of them. Joyce averaged 8.5 points, 2.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 30.1 minutes played. Joyce has been playing professionally overseas since 2009. In Germany, Joyce is the Basketball Bundesliga League all-time leader in assists.
Cleveland State Men’s basketball now has another tie to the NBA with the new coaching staff. First is Gates and Cavaliers’ assistant coach Lindsay Gottlieb. Gates and Gottlieb developed a relationship with their time at Cal. Second is Summers and Cavaliers head coach John Beilein. Summers played at West Virginia under Beilein, allowing them to develop a relationship with each other. Third is Joyce and James, with James as the greatest player to ever suit up in the Wine and Gold and one of the greatest players of all-time to play in the NBA.
While this is Joyce’s first coaching job, he can always tap into experience from his father. Joyce is going to be a great mentor for many players that step in the Wolstein Center to play for the Vikings. However, Joyce might excel in mentoring guards that play for the Vikings. As Joyce himself has been a guard throughout his life from starting at St. Vincent-St. Mary to Akron University to playing in Europe.
Joyce can even tap into Gates’ coaching experiences. As Gates worked primarily with guards at Florida State before becoming the Vikings head coach. For example, under Gates’ tutelage guards Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Malik Beasley, Devon Bookert, Ian Miller and Luke Loucks all saw marked improvements in their game at Florida State.
With Joyce working with the guards primarily, it will free up Gates allowing him to work with other positions on the team. However, with a tandem of coaches in Joyce and Gates, the Vikings should have a scary backcourt in the Horizon League for years to come.
This upcoming season Joyce will get to work with guards Kasheem Thomas, Torrey Patton, Tre GoMillion, Tyrese Potoma, and Justin Hill. Only Thomas is a returning player from the Vikings 2018-2019 season. Thomas has played three years for the Vikings appearing in 94 games and starting in 57 of them. Thomas regular season averages are 6.3 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 24.1 minutes played. Patton did not play last season due to transferring from Akron. Patton’s freshman year he averaged 3.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 0.5 assists in 16.0 minutes played per a game.
While Thomas and Patton are upperclassmen. Guards GoMillion, Potoma, and Hill are players of the future being underclassmen. This will allow Joyce and Gates to develop them for the next three or four years, allowing the players to get comfortable into the system and culture that Gates desires to put into place at Cleveland State.
Potoma averaged 18.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 17.2 minutes played per game in the 2018-2019 season at Laramie County Community College. GoMillion averaged 13.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 28.6 minutes played per game in the 2018-2019 season at Gordon State College. From 2016-2018, Hill averaged 7.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game at Highland High School. When it comes to the recruiting trail, Gates is a great recruiter. However, bringing in Joyce will allow Gates to focus more nationally and bring in talents from all around the country to Cleveland State. While Joyce can focus more on Cleveland State’s backyard and use his Northeast Ohio roots to keep the talent here to play at the Wolstein Center.