On Sunday afternoon, 2023 big man Joseph “JP” Estrella (South Portland, Maine) out of Brewster (N.H.) Academy announced that he had earned a scholarship from Greg Gard and the Wisconsin Badgers. Estrella has other offers from Boston College, Iowa, Marquette, Notre Dame, Providence, Syracuse, Tennessee and Xavier among others, according to Rivals.
Estrella is unranked by all of the major recruiting services, but one would imagine that he’ll be, at worst, a high 3-star prospect.
Here are some fast facts about Estrella:
Hometown: South Portland, Maine
High School: Brewster Academy, Wolfeboro, N.H. (previously South Portland High School)
Grassroots Team: Middlesex Magic
Weight: around 200 pounds
Position: stretch big/power forward
Over the weekend, Estrella and Middlesex Magic played in the UAA Session 1 in Indiana and he generated a lot of buzz over his two games. Both Brandon Jenkins of 247 Sports and Jamie Shaw of On3 Sports listed Estrella as one of their standouts from Friday night.
Estrella is a big frame with good length and a strong base. He is very skilled in his understanding of angles and footwork. He battles around the basket for rebounds, high-pointing the ball in traffic. The jump shot is smooth and clean, and he steps into it confidently from behind the arc.
On Friday, Estrella was dominant in Middlesex’s win over Atlanta XPress, scoring 14 points (6-of-10 from the floor) with 10 rebounds and three blocked shots while in Saturday’s loss to KC Run GMC he had eight points (4-of-11 shooting), two blocks and one steal. Weirdly he didn’t grab a single rebound in that second game.
Last year Estrella was named the Southwestern Maine Activities Association player of the year after averaging 20.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.1 blocked shots per game for South Portland High School. He also led them to their first boys basketball state championship in 30 years. He scored 19 points, secured 15 rebounds and swatted five shots in the state title game.
After the season he decided to transfer to Brewster Academy, a basketball factory in New Hampshire that has produced 19 NBA players, including T.J. Warren and Donovan Mitchell.
“I want to play athletes every single day who are just as skilled or more skilled than me and I really want to walk in to college prepared for the next level,” Estrella said. “I don’t want to just be a good player at that next level. I want to dominate and I took that into consideration that Brewster would get me ready.”
6'10 JP Estrella (@MiddlesexMagic / @BrewsterHoops ) V 6'11 Ugonna Kinglsey (@NYJayhawks /@PSAhoops ) #NEHF— Sherwyn Cooper (@BallasTV) April 7, 2022
2 of the better 23 Bigs in NE matched up last wknd
JP - BC, PC, Tenn, Iowa , Xavier, Marquette, Penn st
Ugonna- LSU,Ole Miss, PC, Georgetown, Clemson, Seton Hall pic.twitter.com/L1T2i4cScy
One of the traits Estrella is well above average at is his positioning on rebounds. In that brief Twitter clip above and in this highlight video from last fall Estrella has numerous put back dunks and layups. He gets those because he is always in the right spot after a missed shot by a teammate. Great rebounders like Charles Barkley or Dennis Rodman always seemed to just know where the ball was going to end up and, while I wouldn’t compare Estrella to them yet...he does appear to have an innate ability to be where the ball is. That’s a valuable skill.
He has a nice shooting motion and is confident in taking threes. He can take it to the rim and finish with authority if the three is taken away and he has to drive. He protects the rim well, although he will need to add at least a little bit of weight and strength to compete in college.
You may be tempted to compare Estrella to Gonzaga big man Chet Holmgren and you wouldn’t be wildly off-base if you did so, but Holmgren is a better ball handler and defender. Estrella could be as good of a long range shooter as Holmgren who, keep in mind, shot 39% from deep as a freshman on 105 attempts and I also think that Estrella can be as effective a rebounder as Holmgren too.
It’s difficult to say where Wisconsin will stand in Estrella’s recruitment because I’d guess he’ll start getting a bunch more Power 5 offers shortly. The Badgers have a good track record of making players like Estrella into All-Big Ten caliber players, but he should have a host of good options on where to continue his basketball career.