Slam Dunk to the Beach returned to Cape Henlopen high school in Lewes, Delaware after an 11-year hiatus this year. Before, NBA stars like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard had played in the tournament as high schoolers, but last Sunday, Isaiah Briscoe made a case for himself to have his name added to the tournament’s prestigious alumni list that features 34 NBA All-Stars.
Briscoe put up 23 points and four rebounds in Roselle Catholic’s 71-55 win over Haverford and then followed that up that Monday with 17 points, six rebounds and four assists in their overtime win against Gonzaga (D.C.).
The 6-foot-3 point guard signed with John Calipari’s Kentucky squad on Nov. 13, 2014 after taking visits to UConn, St. John’s and contemplating offers from many other schools like Missouri, Miami, Syracuse, UCLA and Arizona. ESPN has him ranked as the number one point guard in the class of 2015 and Rivals has him ranked as the ninth best player in the country.
After Sunday’s performance, Dime got a chance to talk one-on-one with the future Wildcat.
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Dime: This is a pretty far drive for you guys to come play at Slam Dunk at the Beach. Is this different from any other holiday tournament you have played in?
Isaiah Briscoe: Not really. For the most part we just want to come down here and take care of business. As soon as we get back to New Jersey we play the number two ranked team in St. Andrews. We just got to keep ourselves together and then we have another tough game when we leave, so hopefully we’ll win that too.
Dime: So this is really just to keep you and your team fresh over the winter break?
IB: I mean, it’s not really like two easy games. Gonzaga is a good team and obviously being the number three team in the country we’re going to get everybody’s best game so there are no easy games for us.
Dime: You came into the tournament as one of the faces that they advertised to get people to come out. You committed early to Kentucky, but with all of the other offers you had, why not just play the season and tournaments like these out?
IB: It was just a bearing on my shoulders. It was extra stress for me and family. We came to an agreement and I think that I made the best decision for me and my family.
Dime: What is it like, as a high school student, to get all of this attention from national media?
IB: It’s been like that since the eighth grade. It shows you that hard work pays off. Coming from like my first year in eighth grade when I was 5-7 and a little chubby kid and then making a whole 360 and just working hard.
Dime: When did you hit your growth spurt and when did things start to change?
IB: My second year of eighth grade I grew to like, maybe 6-1.
Dime: When did you first realize like, “Oh man, people notice me? I might be a D1 player?”
IB: Eighth grade. Everything started in eighth grade. I got eight offers in eighth grade. That was the turning point.
Dime: I’m sure you had a bunch of schools after you. Were there any where like, right away you decided you weren’t going to a certain school?
IB: I mean, obviously. And then growing up as a kid I wanted to go to Syracuse. My sister went to Syracuse, so I always wanted to go to Syracuse no matter what. I used to spend my spring breaks up at Syracuse. Everything was Syracuse, Syracuse. And then as I got older, things changed. And now I’m going to Kentucky when, at a point in sophomore year it was Arizona, Arizona, Arizona. Things changed.
Dime: Syracuse offered you, right?
IB: Yea, yea. Syracuse offered me.
Dime: So, what was the difference between John Calipari’s pitch to you and Syracuse’s?
IB: It wasn’t necessarily Cal’s pitch, it was just like, his resume and how he gets guards to the next level. He puts guys on the biggest stage and everybody’s dream is to play in the NBA, so why not give myself the best chance to go play in the NBA?
Will Isaiah Briscoe make it to the NBA level?
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