In a grassroots hoops world that has tracked NBA modernization step by step, with more and more big men facing the basket, a player like Isaac Haas can be refreshing.
Like a lot of seven-footers, he developed late. To be completely honest, his development hardly is a given and definitely remains incomplete. He hit the EYBL circuit with the Alabama Challenge this past spring and didn't really excel, struggling in the AAU atmosphere and failing to notch impressive production.
But the makings of an impact player do exist. He enjoyed some very fine moments at June's NBPA Top 100 Camp, utilizing his size effectively in an environment that was at least slightly more structured.
His promise ultimately prevailed in terms of drawing more ardent pursuit. By mid-July, Virginia, Purdue, UCLA, UAB, Wake Forest, Texas A&M and Wichita State comprised his favored seven, and he'd begun to eyeball his fall campus visits.
He traveled to Winston-Salem first, in late August, and committed to the Demon Deacons immediately thereafter. Haas delivered to Wake its second top-100 prospect in the senior class, joining point guard Shelton Mitchell.
Haas is absolutely huge. At 7-1, 275 pounds, no one ever will question whether he's big enough to play center or do anything else in life. That he's both tall and sturdy means he'll be able to exert himself physically right off the bat.
He's also in the process of developing post offense. That may not sound like much of a compliment, but progress with centers must be accepted in due time. Haas catches the ball okay and already demonstrates educated footwork in deep. He also impressed at the NBPA Camp by using the glass to score over shotblockers.
Defensively, he'll be a tree trunk interior stopper and should become a strong rebounder as well. If he rebounds with two hands and keep the ball high, he should be able to rack up a few points per game on the offensive glass.
Wake Forest will have to utilize him judiciously, at least early in his career. He doesn't run particularly well and will struggle to play at faster tempos, which explains his relatively meager production on the travel circuit. In halfcourt settings he could outpace expectations, but he can be exposed when matched against superior athletes.
That's a big ticket item and may be difficult for him to reverse, so cultivating strategies to overcome the speed disadvantage will be critical.
Fans who prefer their big man to be slinky and quick may not prefer an old school player like Haas, who nevertheless illustrates why size still carries the day on many occasions.
But don't be shocked if he develops into a big-time performer for the Deacons or even if he advances up the ladder to the NBA. If he keeps improving as quickly as the past 12 months suggest, he'll prove his current skeptics wrong.