Joshua Apple had a pretty impressive first season in the EABL. Despite dealing with a rigorous schedule of IBA training alongside study at St Joseph’s College on the other side of Ipswich, Josh averaged over 14 points and 12 rebounds per game, propelling him into the eyes of the Basketball England selectors and under-18 coach Steve Bucknall.
IpswichBasketball.net: Josh, tell us about your experience last season and how you found playing for the Academy?
Joshua Apple: It was tiring, I did have to miss a few lessons to make it trainng, so I always had extra work to catch up on. We had two team training sessions, two S&C sessions a week, and I tried to miss as little as possible.
It was a fantastic growing experience though. I got to play at a far higher level, with some outstanding teammates and a brilliant coaching staff who I learned so much from. I can’t wait to be there full-time this season and get the opportunity to be around my teammates every day, getting better and stronger.
IB: So going from that to being selected for the England Under-18 initial squad, how did you approach that experience and what did you get out of it?
JA: I didn’t expect to make the final team, but I remember at the first camp Coach Bucknall told me that he liked my game, and if I kept rebounding he wouldn’t have any reason to cut me. It was a challenge trying to adapt to being a role player for the summer, and I had to focus on being disciplined, but it was worth it for the kit. I’m going to frame that one day.
IB: How much fun was it to get to travel away as an international, and how did you find the level of play once you got there?
JA: Skopje was amazing, honestly. I’ve been on rugby team tours but never outside of the UK, so this was a really fun experience and very new. A group of us going away, playing, building some great chemistry together. I bonded really well with guys I hadn’t spoken to before, which I really enjoyed.
I thought I adjusted quite well. I liked Coach’s style. He always stuck to his word – for example, he’d never cut corners with subbing out starters if they weren’t giving him what he asked.
IB: And what do you think it’s given you for the season ahead?
JA: From my European experience, training and playing against top players, I’ve gained a lot of confidence and I also feel like I’ve improved my skill set. Playing against big, physical, talented European forwards, like the Ukrainian Dymytro Skapintsev who was probably my toughest matchup, I saw what my weaknesses were at that level, and since I got back I’ve really been trying to work on those.
My personal goal for the season is to get recruited to a good college, and to try to carry on improving as much as possible. I can’t get complacent – I know the coaches here won’t let me!
I want to help Ipswich win the EABL this year, and help the men to get promoted.