Toward the end of a breakout sophomore season at Houston Baptist, Cody Joyce decided it would probably be best if he left the new Division I program for a school closer to home.
Though the Huskies struggled mightily during Joyce’s two seasons, the Southern grad’s reasons for leaving HBU went beyond basketball.
“It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, we went 6-25, that’s the reason why I’m leaving,’” Joyce said. “At the end of the day, basketball isn’t going to be around much longer for me. I’m kind of old, you know? … I want to become a lawyer and want to get in to [the University of] Maryland’s law school. That would be the best [reason] to come back home and get connections.”
After this semester at Houston Baptist, Joyce will get a chance to make those local connections and continue his college basketball career at UMBC. The 6-foot-8 post player committed to the Retrievers last weekend, 10 days after receiving his release from the Huskies.
“I had the idea that I was going to come back to the area,” Joyce said. “I knew I was going to play basketball, but I also wanted to see what school would have a good chance for me to graduate [with a] pre-law [focus]. That was one factor. The closer I could be to Maryland the better. Then it was just a matter of finding out who was interested. [UMBC was] very interested. They called me the day I got the release. That night I knew they were very interested.”
For Joyce, a lightly recruited player coming out of Southern High in 2011 and a slightly more coveted prospect coming out of Massanutten (Va.) Military Academy in 2012, the immediate interest from UMBC was flattering.
“I never had someone basically go all out recruiting me,” said Joyce, who was second on Houston Baptist in scoring last season with 9.9 points in 22.7 minutes per game.
Bryan Harris, a former guard for the Retrievers and fellow Southern grad, vouched for his former teammate to UMBC coaches. Joyce will be the next in a long line of former Baltimore-area basketball stars to suit up for the Retrievers. UMBC returns point guard Rodney Elliott Jr. (John Carroll), forward Will Darley (Dulaney) and guard Ben Grace (Gilman), in addition to adding Richmond shooting guard transfer Wayne Sparrow (St. Frances) and freshman guard Jourdan Grant (Archbishop Spalding).
The UMBC coaches “said of course I have to earn playing time,” Joyce said. “They have guys who are big 4-men, athletic. The only problem was they were missing a 5. The style of play [coach Aki Thomas] wants is a true post player, back to the basket. This will be one of the perfect fits. Same thing at HBU, where I think I did pretty well in the system. It’s a very similar system. Playing with Rodney [Elliott], he’s going to be really good with me. I think we can be really good.”
Joyce said it was tough leaving Houston Baptist and he really appreciated how the coaching staff there took a chance on him. But he’s excited to began the next chapter of his college career, on the court and in the classroom.
“At UMBC, they had the best things I was looking for, in terms of basketball and academics,” Joyce said. “I’d still do it all over again. At the end of the day, I felt bad for [leaving HBU players and coaches]. I’m very thankful for the opportunity that they gave me.”
An earlier version of this article misstated Bryan Harris' status on the team. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.