SC grad Boone still eying return to the NBA

Former South Carroll basketball standout Josh Boone is shown during his time playing professional ball in China.
Former South Carroll basketball standout Josh Boone is shown during his time playing professional ball in China. (Submitted photo , Carroll County Times)

Josh Boone came to Washington, DC with a singular goal.
The former South Carroll High School basketball standout arrived in the nation's capital by way of Iowa, where he had a brief stint in the NBA's Development League that ended in injury, and before that China, for three years of pro ball, following a four-year career in the NBA with New Jersey, after he was drafted out of Connecticut in the first round in 2006.
Boone's mission, upon joining the Washington Wizards' potential summer league roster after that trek across the globe, was to make people remember him.
"I know that this could be it," Boone said following the Wizards' practice Wednesday morning at Verizon Center. "If it doesn't work out this year then I may not get another shot. That's why I have to do everything in my power to try and make sure that I stick this time."
Washington trimmed its roster Thursday from 16 to 13 before heading to Las Vegas for the NBA Summer League, and the 6-foot-10 Boone wasn't listed anymore.
Boone said Friday via Facebook that he decided to leave the team after consulting with his agent and team trainers.
"If I had decided to press forward, I would have been on the roster for Vegas," he said. "It had nothing to do with me being cut from the team."
The 28-year-old who helped UConn win the national championship in 2004 seems humbled by his basketball journey over the last decade. Boone made a name for himself by earning Big East Defensive Player of the Year and second-team all-conference as a sophomore.
Boone left the Huskies after his junior season, a decision he said he doesn't regret one bit, and was a late first-round pick in the NBA Draft.
"If anything I should have left a year earlier," he said. "My sophomore year I believe I was probably ready to leave, but I stayed an extra year because I wanted to play one more year in college and I wanted to try and graduate. After my first year my plan was really to stay three years and then that was it."
He spent four seasons with the Nets, battling injuries and fighting for court time.
In 2007-08, Boone made 53 starts for New Jersey, replacing Jason Collins at center, and averaged 8.2 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. But he never established a constant presence with the Nets, and they released him in 2010 following a dismal season.
Boone headed to the Far East and hooked up with the Zhejiang Golden Bulls, where he spent parts of three seasons playing in China and absorbing a new way of life.
"It takes a lot of adjusting, as far as just the lifestyle," he said. "Everything about the culture and their way of life is completely different from here, so that was the biggest change. [But] basketball is basketball, no matter where you go."
Boone said the Chinese pro teams are allowed two American players at any given time, and he listed Mike James, J.R. Smith, and Marcus Williams as former teammates.
Boone came back to the states - without his trademark cornrows, a decision he made when he got to China and realized the hairstyle was more hassle than anything else - and signed with the D-League's Iowa Energy. But after two games in which he averaged 16.5 points and 7.5 rebounds, Boone missed the rest of the season with a knee injury.
All the while, he said, Boone never lost sight of his ultimate goal.
"I have almost a renewed sense of confidence after playing in China because I was able to really show some of things that I'm capable of doing over there, and kind of get the love for the game back," Boone said. "It was tough, the last season in New Jersey, with sometimes not even dressing depending on the game. That kind of got me down a little bit, in all honesty.
"But going over there and being able to play with those guys, and just ... go out and play, that's really all it was, was playing basketball."
Boone was trying to latch on to a Wizards summer team filled with big men, and an injury to his ribs early in practice, combined with the knee, may have hurt his chances of making it to Vegas. He said he was excited to play with the Wizards, but if that didn't work out he had hopes of joining another team.
For now, that's the limbo of Josh Boone's professional basketball career.
"I just have to work harder," he said. "The NBA is all about who wants to work the hardest. Everybody in the NBA can play, and there's a ton of guys who aren't in the NBA that can play. I saw that from going overseas.
"It's just a matter of being in the right situation and then once you get there, making sure that you stick."

Recommended on Baltimore Sun