NCB On The Trail: Isaiah Briscoe

After the early-signing period, Kentucky is at the top of the class rankings. But with seven of the top-10 prospects in the ESPN 100 still uncommitted, there is plenty of work left to be done before the best class in the land is crowned.

With that in mind, here’s a look at the No. 1 class contenders, what they would have to do to finish in the top spot and what their chances are of finishing there (percentage):

Kentucky (75 percent)

Yes, the Wildcats are No. 1 now, but ironically none of their three commitments -- Skal Labissiere (No. 11), Isaiah Briscoe (No. 13), and Charles Matthews (No. 44) -- are from a top-10 ranked player in the class and so they’re far from a sure thing. John Calipari will likely look to add two more pieces to his class, one in the frontcourt and another in the backcourt. If he can get Ivan Rabb (No. 5), Cheick Diallo (No. 7), Caleb Swanigan (No. 8), Stephen Zimmerman (No. 10) or Carlton Bragg (No. 18) up front and then Jaylen Brown (No. 2), Malik Newman (No. 3), Brandon Ingram (No. 12) or Antonio Blakeney (No. 14) in the backcourt, UK has a good chance of finishing on top. If they have a mass exodus to the pros, and end up taking more than two players off this list, the top ranking will be a virtual certainty.

When Isaiah Briscoe (No. 13) announced his commitment to Kentucky, it came with a bit of a caveat.

"Maybe the next signing period I think I'll sign my papers," Briscoe said. "I would just wait to see how everything plays out, to see who stays and who goes and things like that, and just make sure it's the perfect fit. I don't want to rush into something."

Despite that apparent hesitation, it was 24 hours later that Kentucky issued a press release stating that Briscoe had indeed signed along with Skal Labissiere (No. 11) and Charles Matthews (No. 44).


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Early signing period winners and losers 

November, 20, 2014
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Over the past few years, college basketball's early signing period has clearly taken precedence over the spring period. Nearly every committed player signs his letter of intent during the fall period, while several available top-100 prospects usually make their decisions within the seven-day stretch.

This season is a bit different. While the wide majority of top-100 players are signed and sealed to their future school, 11 of the 18 five-star prospects are still on the board. As a result, we're going to have far more drama moving forward than we've had in recent years.

Of course, that doesn't mean the early signing period was without interesting storylines. Five ESPN 100 prospects made their decisions, and several schools had to go back to the drawing board to reassess their 2015 classes.

WINNERS

Kentucky


Well, this was easy. The Wildcats went into the early signing period with one commit and a borderline top-40 class and exited with two five-star pledges and the No. 1 recruiting class in the country. With Charles Matthews (No. 44 in the ESPN 100) already in tow, Kentucky went to work, landing Skal Labissiere (No. 11) and Isaiah Briscoe (No. 13) in a 45-minute span last Thursday. Labissiere has perhaps the most pro potential of any prospect in the country, while Briscoe is the best point guard in the 2015 class. As always, the lesson is to never underestimate John Calipari. A month ago, it wasn't a lock that Kentucky was going to get Labissiere or Briscoe -- let alone both of them, back-to-back, on the same day. Calipari closed with both prospects, though, and now the Wildcats are back in a familiar position atop the recruiting rankings.


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Kentucky's No. 1 class officially signs

November, 14, 2014
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Kentucky head coach John Calipari announced the signing of three ESPN 100 recruits on Friday, giving the Wildcats coach the No. 1 class on ESPN.com.

Heading to Lexington next season will be the top-ranked point guard Isaiah Briscoe (No. 13 overall), the No. 5 center Skal Labissiere (No. 11) and the No. 12 shooting guard Charles Matthews (No. 44).

"All three of these players had dreams to play at Kentucky," Calipari said on the school's website. "Those dreams are now a reality. We didn't have to beg any of them. They wanted to be here. They are all different, yet collectively they will complement each other nicely. It's a great start to what could be a super class again."

Calipari's recruiting classes have finished No. 1 (2009, 2010, 2011, 2013) or No. 2 (2012, 2014) every year since he took over in Lexington.

Kentucky reclaims familiar No. 1 spot 

November, 14, 2014
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Heading into Thursday afternoon, Kentucky had a borderline top-40 recruiting class nationally. There was just one player in the fold, four-star guard Charles Matthews.

Less than one hour later, Kentucky was back in a familiar spot -- with the No. 1 recruiting class in the country.

The Wildcats landed commitments from Skal Labissiere (No. 11 in the ESPN 100) and Isaiah Briscoe (No. 13). Labissiere might have the highest ceiling of any prospect in the class, and Briscoe’s strong summer cemented his status as the premier point guard in 2015.


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Isaiah Briscoe, the 13th ranked overall prospect and top rated point guard in the ESPN 100, committed to Kentucky live on ESPNU's Recruiting Nation signing day special on Thursday night. Briscoe, who stars at Roselle Catholic High School, is coming off a huge summer after leading the New Jersey Playaz to the EYBL championship at the Peach Jam.


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Roundtable: Analyzing the early signing period 

November, 12, 2014
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College basketball's early signing period begins Wednesday, and while 78 of the ESPN 100's prospects have committed to schools across the country, it's time to put pen to paper. Our RecruitingNation analysts break down what they expect to see before the signing window closes on Nov. 19.


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Five big recruiting questions 

November, 5, 2014
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With the early signing period and the college basketball season around the corner, things are quieting down on the recruiting circuit. With that said, there were several recruiting storylines that developed this offseason. With conference media days taking place around the country, many of these topics came up. Here are five worth keeping an eye on moving forward:


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Isaiah Briscoe, the No. 13 prospect in the 2015 ESPN 100, told ESPN he has cut his list of schools down to three: St. John's, UConn and Kentucky. Seton Hall, Rutgers and Missouri were cut from his list.

Very few players showed as well as Briscoe in the offseason. The Union, New Jersey, native changed his body and converted to a legitimate point guard, making plays for others as he demonstrated the ability to lead the New Jersey Playaz to a Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) championship at the Peach Jam.

As we approach the early signing period (Nov. 12-19), Briscoe discussed each school.


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Defense might win championships, but the only way to get back and set your defense is to to score points on a consistent basis.

The best scorers in basketball can produce when the pace is frenetic or when it slows down against an organized defense. The best scorers create space for themselves by using dribble moves, jab steps, operating on ball screens, or by reading off-ball screens and cutting to get open.

When the scoreboard needs to change, these five prospects will deliver.


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Last weekend, Kentucky had about 90 NBA scouts on its campus for a practice that was televised on ESPNU -- yet this weekend will feature an even bigger event for the Wildcats.

Friday brings Big Blue Madness to Lexington, where the Kentucky faithful will pack Rupp Arena for their first look at the 2014-15 edition of the Wildcats, the likely preseason No. 1 team in the country. More important, it is also the biggest recruiting weekend of the year for John Calipari and Kentucky. Seven five-star prospects from the classes of 2015 and 2016 are expected on campus this weekend, in addition to four-star commit Charles Matthews.

Calipari and his staff haven’t tried to downplay the event to the prospective recruits, either.

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It wasn’t even two months ago that we polled 12 of the top players in the ESPN 100 with two questions.

1. Who is the best player in the class of 2015?
2. Who would you most like to team with at the next level?

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Fab 48 recap 

July, 26, 2014
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The Las Vegas stretch of the last evaluation period is exhausting, to say the least. Watching games for at least 12 hours a day can take its toll on the mind and body. However, there is nothing better to get the juices flowing again when you can arrive at the gym and take in an epic matchup of 2016 prospect Lonzo Ball against the terrific trio of Oregon-bound Kendall Small, San Diego State-bound Jeremy Hemsley and Stephen Thompson Jr. The game was sloppy at times and the defensive intensity was an afterthought, but the game exhibited the talents of these four West Coast talents.

Best Player

[+] EnlargeIsaiah Briscoe
AP Photo/The Augusta Chronicle, Jon-Michael SullivanIsaiah Briscoe showed why he's one of the top point guards in the 2015 class.
Isaiah Briscoe (Union, N.J./Roselle Catholic)

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NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- The Peach Jam continues to be an event college coaches flock to so they can evaluate and recruit talent for their future rosters. This past weekend, many of the biggest stars on the high school circuit competed for the Nike EYBL championship at the Peach Jam, and the New Jersey Playaz walked away champions in the 17-and-under division.

With so much talent and so much on the line, here are my five takeaways from the event.


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Peach Jam Day 4 recap 

July, 20, 2014
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NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- You won’t find a more competitive grassroots environment than what we saw Saturday during the quarterfinal round of the Nike EYBL Finals at the Peach Jam, as teams were battling to hold on to their seasons. Heading into Sunday's semifinal action, only four teams remained in the 2014 EYBL season.

Here’s a look at some of the most impressive performances from Day 4 on Saturday:


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