The past two summers for Joshua Fox are similar to riding the quirkiest roller coaster at an amusement park, rising to its highest peak before abruptly sinking.
In summer 2012, the 6-foot-6 forward was on his way to UC Riverside on a full men’s basketball scholarship with his high school frontcourt mate Taylor Johns, picked as one of the building blocks for a program on the rebound.
Fox enjoyed a storybook senior season at Sacred Heart Cathedral, averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds a game and helped the Irish win a Northern California Division III title. He averaged 9.3 points and 6.5 rebounds a game in his first year at Riverside and was deemed one of the top young players in the Big West Conference.
“Life was good,” Fox said. “Me and [Taylor] were excited to go down there and play.”
But that wasn’t good enough for Fox, and the frustration over the Highlanders going 6-25 caused him to mull leaving the program. After injuring his right knee late in the season, which required surgery, Fox had enough of Riverside and, early last summer, he decided to come back home.
“We were fast and athletic, but when we got down to [Riverside], we played at a slow pace, didn’t run any fastbreaks and that’s something the coaches told us we’d be doing,” Fox said. “It was kind of a letdown when we didn’t play the style basketball we were told we’d be playing.”
Now Fox is back home playing for junior college power City College of San Francisco, where he is a key cog on a team that is 23-1 and ranked No. 1 in the California Community College Athletic Association poll. He’s averaging 10 points, five rebounds and 1.6 steals a game for the Rams.
“I’m loving it at [CCSF], and with me still rounding into form with my injury, coach [Justin] Labagh and his staff have really made things fun for me,” Fox said. “I feel like there is no drop-off from a Division I school because everyone on this team has D-I talent.”
Not everyone was on board with Fox transferring out of Riverside, including the man who coached him for three years at Sacred Heart Cathedral, coach Darrell Barbour. Barbour, who also coached Chad Fox, Joshua’s older brother, enjoyed great success while coaching Fox, but he was forthright about his feelings about him bolting from UC Riverside.
“I’m a pretty straight-forward person, and I truly love Joshua Fox and I have great feelings for him and his family,” Barbour said. “But in my opinion, he should have never left [UC Riverside]. He was having a great year as a freshman, getting major minutes, and they were building around him and Johns. To be honest with you, I couldn’t understand why he wanted to leave.”
Despite the tumultuous times toward the tail end of his tenure at Riverside, Fox is on track to transfer back to a Division I school after the season. He’s getting looked at by Big West Conference schools Hawaii and UC Davis.
“Mentally when he got here, he was at a crossroads, but he never doubted himself when he was rehabbing his knee,” Labagh said. “He’s a legit college basketball player, comes from a great family, and he brings leadership and experience to this team.”