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.
Isaiah Briscoe on Brink of Decision, Will Announce Soon
After initially planning on signing during the NCAA’s late period in the spring, Isaiah Briscoe now stands on the brink of a college decision and will sign during the early period Nov. 12-19.
The 6-foot-3 Roselle (N.J.) Catholic point guard will huddle this weekend with his father, George, and is expected to announce his decision as early as next week on the ESPN family of networks.
“When I go home this weekend and I sit down with him, I’m hoping we can wrap this up during the period that’s coming up,” George Briscoe, who works in Washington, D.C., during the week, told SNY.tv Thursday morning.
“I’m trying to close this thing up.”
George said he didn’t think his son had already decided in his own mind.
“He’s like a kid in a candy store so I don’t think so but I gave him a wrap it up time,” he said.
George said no specific date has been confirmed with ESPN, but they are working on several windows on ESPNU’s “Recruiting Nation” program.
“They gave me a range during the [early] period, it’s not confirmed what slot,” he said.
Briscoe, who this summer led the NJ Playaz to the Peach Jam title and is projected as the No. 8 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft by DraftExpess.com, is down to St. John’s, Kentucky and UConn.
St. John’s has been recruiting Briscoe for two years and remains in a strong position. George said he speaks regularly with head coach Steve Lavin, including again on Wednesday.
“Oh, yeah, I spoke to Lav yesterday, that don’t stop,” George said.
Kentucky entered the process late but has made an aggressive push. Since Briscoe’s official visit to campus last month, head coach John Calipari and/or assistant Barry “Slice” Rohrssen have been to Roselle Catholic several times, most recently on Tuesday when Slice came.
“They’ve been working very hard, I must say, very hard,” George said of Kentucky. “Isaiah’s been getting a lot of communication. It’s not about coming to the house and sitting down, but just talking on the phone and coming to the school. They just hustling.”
As for UConn, George said they are “absolutely” still in the mix.
“Connecticut’s been to the school,” he said. “Glen Miller’s been in contact, Kevin Ollie’s been in contact, but you know how this thing goes. If you think the odds are against you and it’s down to three, you move on to the next guy. That’s just the recruiting world. You put more stock into another person. That’s cool, that’s the way it goes.”
Asked if UConn had done that, George said, “I haven’t seen them, but I know they’ve been at the school. I’m not in town. I’m just saying, we understand it. If that’s what’s going on, I don’t know. But I know they’ve been in contact with my son heavy.”
What’s interesting is that while Briscoe will be off the board early, many of the other top recruits in the Class of 2015 plan to wait until the spring, meaning Briscoe won’t know who many of his future teammates are until then.
St. John’s is focusing on Briscoe, Louisiana guard Brandon Sampson, Long Island big man Cheick Diallo and Italian guard Federico Mussini, among others. Yet Sampson and Diallo both plan to sign late, and Mussini could end up signing a pro contract.
St. John’s has six seniors and doesn’t have much returning next year. As a result, Lavin is in the market for three or four guards for next year’s team.
UConn will lose Ryan Boatright, but returns much of its core and is also in the mix for elite big man Diamond Stone, whom Ollie visited Wednesday.
Kentucky, meantime, figures to lose Andrew and Aaron Harrison from its backcourt, but will likely return point guard Tyler Ulis and shooting guard Devin Booker.
Many of their top targets — Malik Newman, Antonio Blakeney, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Carlton Bragg, Caleb Swanigan, Stephen Zimmerman — also won’t commit until late.
George did say that Isaiah and the 6-4 Blakeney are “very tight.” Kentucky is the only school recruiting both players.
“They very tight, but ‘Saiah was tight with Allonzo Trier, too,” he said of the Arizona commit. “Those guards, they’re all tight. But him and Blakeney are probably the tightest.”
Wherever Briscoe goes, George said he expects other elite players to follow because his son is a proven winner who makes others better.
“If he goes to a school I’m sure others will be coming to play with him,” he said.
And even though many others are signing late, Briscoe is ready to decide soon.
“That has no bearing on us,” he said. “‘Saiah’s starting to feel comfortable with a couple of things and we’re going to move on. So he’s just feeling comfortable with a couple things and we’re going to move on.
“We broke it down to three that he enjoys…It’s the one he feels most comfortable with.”
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.