His Life

Shaping Future Ballers - Priority Sports

Still not done with basketball, Cornette scored a job as a color commentator with ESPN until late 2011, when he met with Mark Bartelstein, long-time NBA agent and CEO of Priority Sports & Entertainment. Mark experienced what most did upon meeting Joey, and the story of his hiring lived on to be told at the Celebration of Life held at Hinkle Fieldhouse in 2016.

“I had six interviews and it took seven months before I got hired, and somehow Joel sold Mark in one meeting in a way no human has done before or since,” remembers Alex Tarshis, SVP of Athlete Marketing at Priority.

“Joel came in that first time, and I was awed,” said Bartelstein. “I pretty much asked him for a job when it was over.”

From 2011 until his passing, Joel worked as the Director of Basketball Recruiting and signed talent from Bradley Beal, to Wade Baldwin IV, Sam Dekker, the Plumlee brothers and more. Again, these players remembered Joel not just as a professional, but a confidant & friend.

“I lose a big brother, but gain an angel,” Beal wrote on Instagram. “Words can’t express the pain but I know you’re watching over me. Love you big bro!”

“Joel was more than just an agent to me,” said Dekker on Twitter. “He was an awesome man and unreal friend. Gone way too soon…gonna miss you man.”

A Coach & Leader - Butler & Iowa University

Three years after graduation, Cornette returned to support the Butler family yet again as a part of the basketball staff. After a season as Director of Basketball Operations at Butler, he reunited with his old coach, Todd Lickliter, as an assistant at Iowa for three years.

Upon his passing, players Joel coached also mourned, “Awful news. One of best coaches I've had and even better guy.” – Matt Gatens

Since then, a group of managers who worked under Joel started a GoFundMe page, sharing “He was a positive role model on the court, and off of it, he had an even bigger impact on our lives. In the short period of time we had together, Joel played the role of both a mentor and a friend.”

Going Pro - European Hoops

Before hanging ‘em up, Joel decided to enter the professional arena and participated on the Cincinnati Blaze ABA White Division. He was then invited to two NBA pre-draft camps and was drafted professionally in the United States Basketball League (USBL) for the Brevard Blue Ducks.

In 2005 he was picked up by the Nebraska Cranes (also in the USBL) until the Sydney Spirit signed him to play in the Australian NBL. Before a knee injury sent him to the sidelines for good, Joel played in 36 professional games, averaging 10 pts, 8 rebounds & 1 block. 

Learning the Butler Way - Butler University

Joel went on to play basketball for Butler University from 1999-2003, where he won the Frank “Pop” Hedden Award as Butler’s top male freshman student-athlete and was Butler’s Male Athlete of the Year in 2003. Upon graduation, Joel was ranked forth all-time at Butler in field goal percentage (54.4%) and ranks seventh in rebounding (712). He was an all-conference selection in 2003 and named to the All-East Region NCAA tournament team.

Joel was on the first Butler team (2003) to reach the Sweet 16 since 1962. He was an all-around player: defense, passing, rebounding. He was never much of a scorer but led the Bulldogs in scoring versus Oklahoma in Sweet 16 loss that year.

It’s hard to guess what Joey would be remembered for most at Butler?

Would it be his soaring dunk off a rebound in the closing seconds to beat Indiana 66-64 in 2001. The Bulldogs' victory ended Indiana's 39-game win streak in the Hoosier Classic?

Would it be when 12-seeded Butler gutted out a win against No. 4 Louisville, and Joel (who played all 40 minutes, scoring 14 & pulling 10 rebounds) would remind the world “we are still here.”?

The Butler family would likely say it was his larger than life personality, passion for the University and embodiment of “the Butler way.”

“He was the consummate teammate,” said Todd Lickliter, who coached Cornette for part of his tenure at Butler. “He was always about his team, teammates and the success of the university.”

“I was only a dozen years older than Cornette, but he always called me Mr. Nye. He was respectful, but outspoken. Cornette was the guy I always wanted to interview, because he would have something intelligent and confident to say. He always talked and played with a chip on his shoulder, symbolic of the way Butler basketball flourished in that era.” – Rich Nye, Reporter & Butler Alum

A Star Emerges - St Xavier High School

On the basketball court, Joey grew from a lanky, awkward forward on the Freshmen B team, to a GCL Player of the Year as a senior. By the time he left St X, Joel's list of accolades were nothing short of impressive. He was first team all-city, all-district and honorable mention all-state, played in the Ohio North-South All Star Game, and was an all-league pick as a junior and senior. In 2009, the school honored Joel's career by inducting him into the Hall of Fame.