Friday, April 26, 2013
No. 24 soph Briscoe's game is evolving
By Paul Biancardi
ESPN 25 shooting guard Isaiah Briscoe is coming off a strong sophomore season at St. Benedict's in which he helped guide the New Jersey powerhouse to an appearance in the National High School Invitational championship game.
"Coming into the high school season, we knew we had a chance to be one of the best teams this season. We got close to being No. 1,” said Briscoe, whose team finished No. 2 in the ESPN 25 rankings.
Isaiah Briscoe will take on a larger role for St. Benedict's Prep next season.
Briscoe’s play has led to recruiting attention from several high-major programs. He will take an unofficial visit to Florida this spring and has already visited Arizona, Virginia, Syracuse, Seton Hall and Rutgers. He also holds offers from Villanova, Cincinnati, UConn, Pittsburgh, Miami and Baylor.
In 2012, Briscoe played on a loaded squad with a talented floor general and leader in Syracuse commit Tyler Ennis, an outside threat in VCU pledge Jonathan Williams and a physical, often dominant, frontline of Pittsburgh-bound Mike Young and Old Dominion pickup Denzell Taylor. That rendered the 6-foot-3 Briscoe as the fourth or fifth scoring option, playing shooting guard, either forward spot or even the 5. His play in the team’s small ball lineup helped free up operating room for the penetrating backcourt.
His role as a sophomore was to provide scoring and defense while following the lead of Ennis and Co. That will change next year as he’ll transition to a combo guard, forced to produce more to offset the losses of Ennis, Young and Taylor. Briscoe is preparing for a more demanding role, by playing the point with the NJ Playaz on the AAU circuit. There’s hope he can be more of a facilitator while maintaining his scoring production and becoming more of a leader.
"It's definitely been a challenge for me," Briscoe said of the added responsibilities.
Briscoe averaged 20 points per game during the first weekend of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League. But when you dig deeper into his actual stats, his shooting percentage is down and his assist-to-turnover ratio wasn’t very good. It’s nice that Briscoe is taking on a larger role, but at the same time, it's not a license to develop bad habits.
Briscoe can score when his team needs buckets. He showed that in the NHSI semifinal win against No. 1 Findlay Prep. Down in the second half against top-ranked Findlay Prep in the semifinals, Briscoe was the catalyst on offense for the Gray Bees, scoring seven points in the final quarter. It all started with a corner trey that put Benedict’s ahead, followed by a step-back jumper and a steal and a fast break layup to seal the victory.
He’ll need to continue displaying those clutch abilities while also creating for others and limiting his turnovers. Learning to play the point guard will take time, but he has a stellar teacher in Benedict’s coach Mark Taylor.
"The team usually takes on the personality of one player who becomes the face of the team,” Taylor said. “He is the one who drives the success of the team and all the parts. Isaiah will be that guy for our team over the next two years as he takes on Tyler Ennis’ role as the next great All-American guard for the Gray Bees.”