Growth Spurt Helps Propel Jonathan Isaac To Success
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Jonathan Isaac (IMG Academy/Naples, Fla.) has grown a lot since his freshman season at Barron Collier High School in his hometown of Naples, Florida – as in 7 inches in height. He also has gone from a rising prospect to a member of the prestigious 2016 USA Basketball Junior National Select Team that will play against the World Select Team in the 19th annual Nike Hoop Summit at 12 p.m. (PDT) on April 9 at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon.
“I was surprised,” Isaac admitted of his selection to the 2016 USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Select Team. “I didn’t really think that I had played all that well when I went up there, so I wasn’t expecting it.”
“Up there,” was at his first USA Basketball experience at the 2015 USA Basketball Men’s Junior National minicamp Oct. 3-4 at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. There, he took part in four practice sessions along with 50 of the nation’s best players from the high school classes of 2016, 2017 and 2018. The purpose was to help USA Basketball field experienced teams for the following year’s international competitions – such as the Nike Hoop Summit. It seems to have served its purpose for Isaac, who said he knows he will feel much more prepared in his second national team experience.
“I think I didn’t play as well the first day,” Isaac explained. “The second day I was more comfortable, getting adjusted to things and just focusing on playing.
“If I had it to do over again, I know I would do a lot better.”
Obviously, Isaac played well enough to impress the USA Basketball Men’s Developmental National Team Committee, which is responsible for selecting the 12-member USA roster for the Nike Hoop Summit.
“I think they saw I can bring versatility,” Isaac said. “Being 6-10 and being able to do a lot of different things, I bring size and versatility.”
Now listed as a 6-foot-10 forward, Isaac was a 6-foot-3 guard as a freshman and sophomore at Barron Collier High School in 2011-12 and 2012-13.
“It wasn’t that hard,” Isaac said of changing his basketball position. “I think just through working on my game and playing basketball things just transitioned as I grew.”
After two years at Barron Collier, Isaac transferred and played two seasons at International School of Broward in the Fort Lauderdale area. He averaged 29.5 points and 9.0 rebounds per game as a senior in 2014-15.
“I hope so,” he said when asked if he thought he was done growing. “I kind of don’t want to get taller, because I want to stay at the 3 (position).”
The growth spurt also brought on more fans and increased the amount of attention he got from college basketball coaches. Isaac began to see a college scholarship as a real possibility, and he began to believe in his NBA dream. He said the attention also brought some added pressure.
“It was hard, the whole recruiting process, because I didn’t expect it for myself,” Isaac said of his experience as a coveted recruit. “So, there is a point where you get overwhelmed, and I’m sure that is true for everybody.
“I looked to my mom and some coaches here at IMG. They helped me realize that it is your process and you control everything. That helped a lot.”
Isaac committed to Florida State University for the 2016-17 school year and decided to spend another season getting prepared at IMG Academy in Brandenton, Florida.
“I love it here,” he said. “We play post-grad teams, but we will go to tournaments where there are high school teams. But there is a national championship and everything like that.
“Just working every day. Playing wasn’t as much my goal. I didn’t come to IMG to play games. I came to just work on my game and get better.”
Specifically, one of Isaac’s main focuses is adding size to a frame that has drawn comparisons to athletes such as Kevin Durant and Brandon Ingram.
“My body is what I’m focused on, and just getting stronger is the biggest thing.
“It allows me to be more aggressive, being able to knock around, and stuff like that. Not being so fragile,” he added with a laugh.
This April, Isaac will realize another one of his childhood dreams when he puts on a USA Basketball jersey in the 2016 Nike Hoop Summit.
“It’s going to be surreal,” he added. “Playing for my country has been one of my dreams ever since I was little.
“I just know that it is one of the elite games,” he said of the event. “A couple of the guys that are on the team, we went to the Bahamas for a basketball tournament,” Isaac said. “We have some chemistry already, and everybody can play, so I think we’ll be fine.”
Don’t miss Isaac and his USA teammates in the 2016 Nike Hoop Summit and get your tickets now: http://bit.ly/nikehoopsummit