Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Briscoe: Kentucky Recruitment Is Something ‘I Dreamed Of’
ROSELLE, N.J. — Isaiah Briscoe plans to visit Kentucky in the coming weeks and is excited about the vision coach John Calipari shared with him during their in-home meeting Thursday night.
Kentucky went three deep in the visit with Calipari joined by assistants Kenny Payne and Barry “Slice” Rohrssen.
“[Calipari], Coach Payne and Slice sitting in my living room is just something that I dreamed of,” the 6-foot-3 Briscoe told SNY.tv. before his teammate Chris Silva, a 6-9 power forward, committed to South Carolina.
Kentucky has yet to offer a scholarship but that could be forthcoming on an upcoming visit. Briscoe, who is still wearing a walking boot after fracturing his foot this summer, said he plans to visit either for Big Blue Madness Oct. 17 or the Blue-White Game Oct. 27.
“[Calipari] didn’t offer, he said he doesn’t think it’s fair if he offered me and I was able to take the scholarship without going to see Kentucky,” Briscoe said. “He wants me to go visit and I’ll go visit within a couple weeks or so. He said he loves guards, he needs guards and the people that he puts in the NBA and what they’re doing in the NBA is shocking. It’s just a blessing”
Calipari shared that his former players currently in the NBA are making more than $700 million — not including endorsement deals.
Kentucky will likely lose guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison to the NBA Draft, and will be in need of guards for 2015 even if Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker return.
Kentucky got involved late for Briscoe but he is actively considering going there.
“Yes, absolutely,” he said.
Kentucky has nine McDonald’s All-Americans and six future first-round NBA picks.
All of that is very appealing to Briscoe, who this summer led the NJ Playaz to the Peach Jam title.
“[Calipari] said his job is to get people in the NBA, ultimately that’s everybody’s goal is to get to the NBA,” Briscoe said. “Last year, he had six people [who could go] in the first round, this year he had eight. And it’s just like the lineage and the steps. This wave go to the NBA from Kentucky, and then the next wave goes. And that’s something I want to be a part of. I want to be a part of those waves that go to the NBA, where the starting five and two people coming off the bench are saying, ‘We’re now in the NBA.’ Every day at practice you’re going against [McDonald’s All-Americans].
“Like he said one day it was the twins, Dakari [Johnson], Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress. The other team was Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, Marcus Lee, Karl Towns and Trey Lyles. That’s [nine] McDonald’s All-Americans battling against each other every day.
“You got [nine] McDonald’s All-Americans, even if you don’t play, that’s tough going against each other in practice.”
Calipari is also pitching to recruits the fact that he’s running an NBA combine for his players the weekend of Oct. 11 in which all 30 NBA teams are expected.
“Like he said, he always said that he’s going to protect his players,” Briscoe said. “He walked into practice and said, ‘Who wants to be a pro?’ He said everybody raised their hands, the walk-ons, everybody. So he’s saying his job is to get you where you want to be. Not only putting you on that stage, but getting you better mentally and physically. He’s doing a good job of what he’s doing.”
Briscoe was the man on his Playaz team this summer and some — including some of his current AAU teammates — think he will want to be the man in college.
But Briscoe say that isn’t necessarily true.
“I might not be the man, but I will shine,” he said, “and the spotlight don’t gotta be all on me and I don’t need all the pressure on me. At the end of the day if we win, everybody’s going to reach their ultimate goal, which is to go to the NBA. So if I go to Kentucky with four other McDonald’s All-Americans, we all have egos but if we win, everybody has NBA, everybody is happy.”
RC coach Dave Boff said he could see Briscoe fitting in at Kentucky if he chose to go there.
“Isaiah will fit in wherever he goes,” Boff said. “He’s got a tremendous basketball IQ and he is the type of kid that can fit into what you need because he is so versatile with the different things he can do. So if he goes to the University of Kentucky, no matter how many All-Americans they have, he’s going to have his niche and he’s going to be fantastic.”
Briscoe will also take official visits to UConn (Sept. 26) and Missouri (Oct. 10). He said he may take an official or unofficial to St. John’s, which has it’s Midnight Madness Oct. 17.
“I don’t know, maybe,” he said of an official to St. John’s. “It’s right there.”
Briscoe said he’s still also considering Arizona and Seton Hall.
“Still Arizona,” he said.
As for Missouri’s late push, Briscoe said, “[Head coach Kim Anderson] just wanted a shot. Me, [Antonio Blakeney] and [Thomas] Bryant are gonna go up there [on an official]. He said give him a chance, I’ll give him a chance.”
UConn is back, too.
“UConn’s in,” Briscoe said.
The Huskies already have point guard Jalen Adams in the fold, but Briscoe said, “They had Shabazz [Napier] and [Ryan] Boatright, they could have me and Jalen.”
Briscoe said he still plans to sign in the spring.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.