There isn't much good to say about Isaiah Briscoe's play this season. There isn't much bad to say, either. The talented junior guard became eligible just this week, and in his first outing of the season he tossed in 24 points and seven assists at the Flyin' To The Hoop event in Ohio.
From the beginning, Briscoe has generated disagreement. Is he a scorer deluxe capable of playing both guard positions, or is he a disconnected volume shooter whose stats fail to impact games in a positive fashion?
For my part, I like players who can score. And not only does Briscoe score, he creates his own shot. His shot selection certainly leaves something to be desired on occasion, but he's young and has plenty of time to learn. He's a slick handler and scorer on the move who finds a way to put the ball into the net from odd, unpredictable angles. That quality makes him a difficult matchup even for superior athletes.
Briscoe also should benefit from current college officiating. He excels at drawing contact and baiting defenders into fouls, as evidenced by his absurd 21 free throw attempts in this week's debut performance. He applies pressure to opponents despite not being a truly elite, above-the-rim finisher.
Part of his success off the dribble owes to a clever use of the backboard. He possesses some playground wizardry in traffic, using english to spin the ball in on reverses and utilizing teardrops to evade shotblockers.
His jump shot also carries range to the three-point line but tends to be streaky. He attempted more than three threes per contest on the 17-under EYBL circuit last year for the N.J. Playaz, yet he knocked in only 34 percent of those shots.
Moreover, while he's a beast getting to the foul line — 185 free throw attempts in 18 EYBL games — he converted only 68 percent of his freebies. Even earlier this week, he made only 14-21 from the line. He must focus more intently in that regard to fully maximize his contributions as a slasher.
Another area to improve pertains to his physique. Briscoe sometimes carries unneeded weight and stands to gain quickness if he'll dedicate himself to maintaining top-shelf fitness. Yet even with all that, he has been among the most productive scorers in the Class of 2015.
Some scouts have questioned if he's a "hollow" stats producer in the sense that he racks up numbers outside the context of the game. That charge has been levied at numerous East Coast guards over the years, sometimes legitimately and sometimes not.
What no one can dispute is that Briscoe has demonstrated a capacity to get his own shot against stern competition. He's also a talented overall handler and passer whose tendency toward flash should even out over time. This spring and summer, we'll be able to observe him in action frequently and assess his impact on games more critically.
From a recruiting standpoint, he lists Arizona, Arizona State, Seton Hall, Rutgers, and Gonzaga very prominently. Based on that list, he isn't married to the idea of staying within the region for college, though the more local programs do carry significance on his list as well.