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No trouble with the "curve" for UNF Basketball newcomer

Ospreys' Josh Endicott isn't your typical college transfer player

It's not unusual for long-time University of North Florida men's basketball coach Matthew Driscoll to take on transfers. 

But Josh Endicott isn't just any transfer. 

"Probably in his own right, he probably hasn't played as much as he would've liked. And he probably hasn't done the things he could've done," Driscoll explained at a recent practice.

"But we also gotta take into account: it's only his second year playing basketball."

Well, not entirely.

The Baxter, Tennessee, native Endicott was a stand-out basketball player at Upperman High School; Driscoll and the Ospreys even recruited him initially. But Endicott opted to follow his other passion: baseball.

"Out of high school, I got compared to Chris Sale, Randy Johnson -- big lefties that made a living out of playing baseball," Endicott explained. 

But one night during his freshman year at the University of Cincinnati changed everything. 

“There’s like two, three feet of snow on the ground. The guys were like ‘lets go sledding!’ I'm like ‘Yeah! Okay! I'm from Tennessee, I’m a Southern kid. Lets do it!’" Endicott recalled. "On my last trip down the hill, I hit an awkward bump. All my weight ended on my left armpit. And snapped my collarbone out of place.”

Doctors didn't rule out a return to the diamond completely, but, as Endicott explained, there was a lot of "grey area" in solely returning to the mound. On a trip home that following summer, his parents suggested another, surefire alternative: a return to the basketball court. 

"[Michael] Jordan did it!" Endicott's teammate, UNF senior guard Ivan Gandia-Rosa, laughed, referring to the all-time NBA great's brief stint in Minor League Baseball. "But you gotta be a certain type of athlete to do it," 

Endicott said he knew he could play. But earning a second-chance at a Division I basketball scholarship proved equally as challenging as his initial recovery.

"I was still going to try and play both -- I still wanted to try and play baseball. So, I then had to find a [junior college] that would allow me to play both," Endicott explained. He ultimately ended up at Motlow State CC, but he still had to be his own best advocate in reaching out to Division I coaches. 

"I was sending out emails to coaches that I was initially in contact with during my high school basketball career. Just kind of giving them a little poke like, 'hey! I'm back playing [basketball]. I don't know if you have a roster spot or a scholarship, but I'm back playing.'"

One of the coaches who answered was North Florida assistant coach Stephen Perkins. After recently parting ways with former UNF forward Noah Horchler, the Ospreys suddenly had an opening in their front-court. Driscoll and Perkins made the trip the next day to watch Endicott practice. 

"We talked for three or four hours [that day]," Endicott said. "It was awesome."

Endicott's injury history did not scare the Ospreys away -- "it's completely different throwing a baseball and shooting a basketball," Driscoll explained. UNF was sold on Endicott's toughness.

“The thing that makes him such a competitor and such a special person is he works," Driscoll said. "I’m really really proud of him for working and for understanding the next opportunity is what’s most important.”

After all, not everyone gets a second shot.