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 Impressed by Fellow Kentucky Signees at Jordan Classic
NEW YORK — All three Kentucky signees in the Jordan Brand Classic are playing together on the East Team and so far Isaiah Briscoe is impressed by his future teammates.
The 6-foot-3 Roselle (N.J.) Catholic point guard has been most intrigued by 7-footer Skal Labissiere, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. During Thursday’s practice, Labissiere flashed a left-handed hook shot over Michigan State-bound Caleb Swanigan with personnel from all 30 NBA teams watching.
“I think Skal’s a great player,” Briscoe told SNY.tv. “I really mean that. I haven’t seen him play in a while but I mean Skal, I’m very excited to play with him next year.”
He added: “He’s just so versatile. He can shoot, he’s just good. He’s better than anything I’ve ever seen in our class.”
They have only had a couple of practices together leading into Friday’s Jordan Brand Classic, but the two are already developing a chemistry.
“A little bit, on and off the court,” Briscoe said.
Charles Matthews, the 6-6 Kentucky-bound wing from Chicago (IL) St. Rita, sat out Thursday’s practice because he was sore after taking a bad foul on Wednesday, but Briscoe liked what he saw on Wednesday.
“His length, he’s very versatile, too, he can jump,” Briscoe said. “I can’t wait to get out there and play with Charles, Skal and Tyler [Ulis] at Kentucky, I just can’t wait.”
Briscoe is looking forward to playing at Kentucky and didn’t want to imagine how things might have been different had he ended up at St. John’s.
“Chris Mullin’s got the job, great for him,” Briscoe said. “That doesn’t affect me.”
Meantime, Briscoe’s own play has impressed West head coach Kevin Boyle, who knows Briscoe well from his days coaching St. Patrick in New Jersey.
“I think Isaiah Briscoe is terrific,” Boyle told SNY.tv. “He gets to the rim, he’s become such a good passer. When he’s driving, his vision, his feel for where his teammates are where people are helping on him is off the charts.”
Boyle previously voiced concerns about Briscoe’s defensive abilities, but had nothing but praise this week.
“He’s going to have to bring it. I think Cal is a great guy for him because Cal’s coached a lot of great players. He’s not gonna look away from anybody taking a play off. But I think Isaiah’s going to have an excellent chance to start their right away. I think to me he’s definitely one of the best 5-7 kids in America right now. He has to get a little more consistent from the perimeter and when he does that, he’s going to be almost impossible to guard because when he’s making shots he gets by you, his handle is so good, his feel, his vision, I think are the best in the country of any kid at finding people.”
It’s been a busy few weeks for Briscoe. After leading Roselle Catholic to the New Jersey Tournament of Champions title under head coach Dave Boff, who attended Jordan practice Thursday, Briscoe participated in the McDonald’s All-American Game, the Nike Hoop Summit and now the Jordan Classic.
Later this summer, he plans to play with the U.S. U19 team at the World Championship in Crete, Greece. The event runs June 27-July 5.
“I’m going to try,” he said. “That’s what I want to do. I want to get out there and go to Greece. That’s a once in a lifetime thing so hopefully I can get out there.”
What does it mean to play with the USA on his chest?
“A lot, it lets you know that it’s more the name on the front of your jersey than the back,” he said. “You just gotta be a team player, you just gotta overall want to win. Individual stats don’t mean anything with USA, at the end of he day you just want to win.”
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.