With serious handles, a solid shot and an almost-effortless intensity on the defensive side of the ball, Josh Pike of Lakewood Park Christian looks the part of a typical Indiana high school basketball player.

The reality is far different.

Pike’s path to Hoosier Hysteria is unique – a story that has taken him from Jeffreys Bay in South Africa to Florida to Indiana.

Pike was born in his native South Africa and was immediately put up for adoption. He was taken to a foster home and found a new family almost immediately. Missionaries Jeff and Robin Pike adopted Josh at two weeks old and set out to raise him as one of their own.

For 12 years,  Josh grew up in his native South Africa in Eastern Cape province, right on the southern coast of the country. He was joined by two other children – TG and Sarah – who became his adopted siblings.

Being a kid in South Africa meant a lot of things, including growing accustomed to the most popular sport in the world – soccer. He began playing at age 3 and hasn’t stopped since.

Basketball? He didn’t know what that was.

“Looking back, I remember seeing basketball rims on the beach in South Africa, but I never knew what they were for,” Josh said. “I just tried to kick my soccer ball up through them.”

Josh’s parents decided to return to the United States when he was 12 years old, settling in St. Petersburg, Fla. While the climate was similar, it was a culture shock for Josh and his siblings who had never been to the United States.

Pike family
Lakewood Park Christian senior Josh Pike, second from left, poses with some of his family members, including brother TG (far left), mother Robin (second from right) and sister Sarah (far right).  

Despite living in one of the richer parts of South Africa, Josh was still surprised in a lot of ways.

“There were no huts or tin roofs anywhere,” said Josh. “It was just a completely different atmosphere.”

After a few years, the Pike family eventually settled in northeast Indiana, with Josh’s dad finding work as a pastor. It was here that Josh grew serious about the sport of basketball, yet he still needed a bit of prodding.

“Coaches saw me at school and asked me if I would like to come out and be around the team, even though the season had already started,” said Josh.

By then, Josh had picked up basketball, playing in his driveway and getting to know the basics. Lakewood Park Christian cultivated his quick adoption of the sport, developing his game behind the scenes and giving him an outlet in the winter without soccer.

While’s Josh’s first love was soccer, he quickly gravitated towards the new sport. The IQ needed for the game was something that he immediately found of paramount importance. As a keeper on the soccer pitch, Josh needs to understand the strengths and weaknesses or players both friend and foe. It is the same with Josh as a ball-handling guard for the Panthers, having to understand the ins and outs of basketball.

The development of Josh has paid dividends for him and Lakewood Park Christian alike. He is averaging over 14 points and five assists per game for the Panthers (11-11) as a senior.

“While I am not really characterized as a one guard, I like to be an on-floor coach,” Josh said. “I think that fits us well with (sophomore Caedmon Bontrager) being such a big part of our offense.”

Despite playing the game for just a few years, Josh hopes that his future involves basketball. He will head to Grace College next year where he compete in track, but he hopes to come back to Lakewood Park and help coach when at all possible, particularly since his little brother TG will be a freshman.

As for some day going back to South Africa, Josh battle homesickness in his sophomore year and wanted to return to his home country. But over the last two years, America has become home.

“If given the opportunity and correct circumstances I would go back, but right now I have no desire to,” Josh said. “I feel like my place is here with my family. God doesn’t give us anything He thinks we cannot handle. He obviously put me in this position for a certain reason.

“I am still excited to be in Indiana.”

 

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