“It feels good to know and to be able to say that I’m going to LSU,” Isaac said. “My coach and me talked about it and we both agreed that LSU was the right place for me and I’m happy to be able to say it.
“I think a lot of it had to do with Coach Johnson and the coaching staff then I felt real good with the players and how they communicated with one another,” added Isaac. “It’s like a big family there and everything centers around the family.”
Isaac may only be in his sophomore year at Pickering High School but at six-foot-four and 215 pounds he already looks the part of a college basketball player from a physical standpoint.
As a sophomore, Isaac averaged 18.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, 8.5 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals a game. Those stats were good enough to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists and blocks.
The Red Devils season ended a little sooner than Isaac would have liked with a 68-65 loss at Donaldsonville in the Regional round of the playoffs, but it was a good run as Pickering finished with a 27-6 overall record and a 9-1 mark in District 4-2A action.
“It was very disappointing because we worked real hard so to come out and have it end like that was very disappointing,” said Isaac. “It was still a good year but we came up short and now we will work even harder in the offseason.
Isaac played on the wing for Pickering, which doesn’t happen often for most kids his size in District 4-2A, because head coach Eddie Thomas likes what he does with the ball in his hands. After all, Isaac is built like a big man on the blocks, but he shot over 50 percent from the field with a lot of his shots coming from the outside, and he also hit 23 percent from 3-point range along with 70 percent from the foul line.
Thomas said that Isaac continues to work on his outside game and when that catches up with the rest of his arsenal he will be even tougher to stop.
“That’s one place he could improve the most is with his outside shooting but he just does so much for us,” said Thomas. “He’s very competitive and he’s able to handle the ball pretty well. He’s able to get to the rim and he’s very strong. I think he pretty much matches up with the next level and what he can play because he can do a bunch of different things.”
John Isaac is one of the top players in the country for the Class of 2011
Isaac has gotten to the point he is at by dedicating himself much earlier than the overwhelming majority of the kids his age and he has already reaped the benefits.
“He works on his game a lot,” Thomas said. “He’s the kid that’s out in his front yard shooting baskets at 2 o’clock in the morning. We played some games and he felt like he didn’t play very well and he was out shooting that night.”
The dedication does not end there for Isaac.
“This was the first season that we didn’t life weights during the season and he wasn’t happy with that so he’d go lift on his own,” Thomas said with a laugh. “During the summer he was power cleaning 275 which between your freshman and sophomore year that’s some pretty good numbers.”
The early interest from schools caught Thomas and Isaac off guard and the inquiries have come from the likes of Kansas, Duke, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Texas, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Florida State and, of course, LSU.
It’s easy for a young man to get blown away by all of that attention, but Isaac has stayed grounded through all of this mainly because he always knew where he wanted to play his college basketball at.
“I went to the Xavier game and a few more this year, and seeing everything first-hand showed me everything I needed to see,” Isaac said. “I really liked the atmosphere out there and how much the people from LSU support their team.
“Coach Johnson and his staff have done a great job in such a short amount of time and LSU is back where it used to be,” continued Isaac. “I wanted to stay close to home where my family and friends could see me play, and just have fun in Louisiana.”
Thomas’ take on what led his star player to make the early commitment to the Tigers tells a little more about the type of young man Isaac is.
“He liked the idea of being able to play for his state and he wants to go to LSU,” said Thomas. “He wants to play for Coach Johnson and the idea of being able to go Division-I and play for him home state. He’s very devoted to his home school and there’s even been people trying to get him to go to other schools from here, but he’s very devoted to his team and I think that carries over to his home state. He’s from Louisiana and he wants to see Louisiana do well.”
Now, that Isaac’s season has come to an end and he has made one of the biggest decisions he will ever have to make, he can now sit back and take some time to relax and get ready for AAU ball right?
“It’s right back in the gym and time to lift weights,” Isaac said. “There’s no resting because you can always get better and I have to get better to play in the SEC. I got right back at it after our season ended and I’ll be back in the gym today.”
Now, that’s dedication!