University of Vermont’s Josh Speidel scores first points after recovering from coma

March 4, 2020 / Winning Hoops
If you’ve followed college basketball at all since 2015, you’re probably familiar with the name Josh Speidel, a 23-year-old senior at the University of Vermont.

Speidel was a three-star recruit playing at Columbus North high school in Columbus, Indiana. A skilled big man, Speidel was a 6-foot-8, 210 pound scoring machine — on January 31, 2015, he was coming off of a season-high 33 points and 18 rebounds.

Photo: MR2EL / Twenty20

“I thought he was the best player I had ever recruited here,” Vermont head coach John Becker told CBS Sports in an interview.

However, the day after his 33-point performance, on February 1, 2015, Speidel’s basketball career — and nearly his life — were suddenly ended in a horrific, nearly-fatal car accident.

Yet despite his career-ending injuries, Vermont chose to continue to honor Speidel’s scholarship. And while the Catamounts have enjoyed a phenomenal season which saw the team finish the regular season with a 24-7 record, the highlight of the season will undoubtedly be remembered as March 3, 2020 — the team’s senior night.

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Vermont’s final home game before preparing for the postseason, Becker and Albany head coach Will Brown, the team’s senior night opponent, agreed on one thing before the game — that the night would belong to Speidel.

Albany would take the opening tip off and would score an easy bucket — thus opening the door for Vermont to run a specially-designed play, ending in Speidel’s first career points in the NCAA.

“It’s been a long journey for him,” Becker added in the interview. “He is just a really an inspiration to us all, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence we’ve had arguably the four best years in program history since he’s been here with us.”

Vermont captured the America East regular season title for the fourth straight season in 2019-20, and should they win the conference tournament, would be making their third NCAA Tournament appearance in four years.

To read more about Josh Speidel’s story and the entirety of Vermont head coach John Becker’s interview with CBS Sports, click here.