The timing of regime change for Stanford Basketball left Coach Jerod Haase and his staff playing catch-up with regard to the Class of ‘17. However, the staff has combated the short timing window with a willingness to not just span the nation, but to go global in pursuit of their first recruiting class.
Stanford has of course locked up Kezie Okpala of Esperanza High in Anaheim and Oscar De Silva of Germany, but the Cardinal is not done with this year’s class and continues to span the globe looking for talent to close out this recruiting year.
That search came to fruition with the commitment this past Wednesday of guard Isaac White of Adelaide, South Australia. White is a 6’1” combo guard with a sweet shooting stroke, and some of that much valued toughness Stanford’s staff looks for in its recruits. We had a chance to hear from Isaac after he made his choice, and here is what he had to say:
1. Give us a little bit of background info on your career. How long have you been playing basketball? When did it become your #1 sport? I've been playing bball since I was 8 years old. I just started out playing any sport I could get my hands on, and played because I have a love for competitive situations and winning. I took all my sports seriously but at age 14 I had to make a choice between Aussie Rules Football and Basketball, and I obviously took the basketball route. It was the opportunity to take my basketball globally which was most attractive.
2. How big is the game in Australia, and how much exposure do you get to the American game? Who are your favorite NBA players? The game is growing rapidly in Australia. The American influence has leaked its way into Australia and stirred the water out here a bit. Media sources such as YouTube and facebook make the game more accessible to us Aussies, but watching raw footage or games cost some serious money (people still find a way- haha). I love to keep an eye on all Australians in the league, however Patty Mills would have to be my favourite. Besides the Aussies floating around, I have an unconditional love for the way Steph plays the game, yet mentioning such in our country would get you called a "band wagoner".
3. Tell us about the genesis of the recruiting process for you. When did schools first get in touch with you? When did Stanford appear on your radar? How long did the process go for you? What other schools recruited you? The process of recruitment started around 3 years ago when I decided to routinely send footage and information of myself out to college basketball coaches of varying levels. I had no clue how I would ever achieve the exposure I required but I tried to "cover all bases". A few years later I teamed with my coach and mate Andrew Jantke, who worked his absolute butt off to pass my information and footage along to schools for me (in a more professional manner). Initially I had a response from a number of D1 schools who are known to have a good relationship with Australian players (Boise St., Albany, etc.), as well as a mix of other programmes from the west coast, and the majority of the Ivy League schools. I was first contacted by Stanford almost a year ago now by Assistant Adam Cohen. As time passed, my interest in Stanford grew- especially when I began to develop a relationship with the coaching staff. There was no doubt that Stanford looked great on paper, but I was determined to dig deeper than that. This was a huge decision for me. I took official visits to Hawaii, Boise St and UCSD- each of which I thoroughly enjoyed and am thankful for the opportunities presented by such schools. Upon my official visit to Stanford however, I fell in love with the people and the program, which made me very excited to finally make my commitment to come down to Palo Alto.
4. What was your first impression of Stanford? How well known was it? I, like most Australians initially associated the name 'Stanford' with an elite academic university, with an equally prestigious athletic reputation. I admittedly saw the school as almost surreal, in the sense that it was so attractive to a student athlete in any relevant departments. Upon my official visit to the University, my expectations were somehow exceeded.
5. How did you feel about Coach Haase and the staff? What part of your visit made the biggest impression on you? I am a relationships man. This move is huge for me and hence I greatly prioritise the relationships I share with the coaching staff and students I came in contact with. I couldn't be more impressed with Coach Haase and the surrounding coaching staff as people, professionals, and basketball minds. The campus itself, facilities and reputation were obviously impressive, but it was the people and relationships I built which made the visit most satisfying and comforting. This is one of the main reasons I feel more than comfortable making this move to Palo Alto.
6. How did you arrive at your choice to commit to Stanford? Stanford had been a school of interest for me, for a long time. I loved their reputations and prowess, but I sure wanted to dive deeper into things. I was excited by the opportunity to play in the PAC 12, against quality competition night in and out. I loved the location, facilities, academic and basketball opportunities, but most importantly the people. I can honestly say that I didn't come across one individual on my visit who didn't obtain a passion for what they did, and I found that contagious. I am a determined and driven kid who wants to one day have a big influence on the world. All in all, I knew that Stanford would provide me with the best opportunities to pursue this goal.
7. Tells us about your game. What would you say are your strengths? What areas would you like to improve on by the time you arrive at Stanford? All my life I have been known as a shooter. Years ago I dedicated myself to improving and expanding my game offensively so that I could become a more versatile scorer, and have also placed emphasis on improving my defensive abilities. I would like to continue to expand my mid range game offensively, and get more crafty around the rim- this will be important as I take the next step. I also recognise that I must continue to improve my athleticism so that I can play above the rim when I need, but also use such abilities to lock down opponents defensively (in more of a one on one situation).
8. How is your team doing this season? How has your high school coach influenced you? My high school basketball team (Sacred Heart College) was fortunate enough to win the state championship this year, however I play most of my basketball with my club (the Sturt Sabres). The club has produced a number of great prospects over the years- some of which are over in the US at the moment pursuing their basketball dreams. We play in a senior state league referred to as the Premier League, and had a very successful year. We found ourselves in the state championship after a comeback season, but unfortunately went down despite a valiant effort.
9. How did your parents react when you were accepted to Stanford? What did it mean to you to get into a school like Stanford? As any parent would, my parents were ecstatic when they learned of my commitment to Stanford University. They are both educators themselves and hence value education, however they were excited for alternate reasons. My parents are extremely supportive of me and all that I do- they did not attempt to influence my decision in the slightest- however they did talk to me about some important deciding factors whilst I was on my official visit. They were both blown away with the people that made the Stanford community, the opportunities which lay ahead, and of course the facilities. It was due to this that my parents were so excited about my commitment.
10. What are your plans for arriving on campus? Will you be here in the summer or in the fall? I plan to arrive on campus on June 24th. I'll be starting summer school and taking things as they come from their. I'm completely foreign to the American College system and must obviously develop my knowledge by the time I arrive late June!
11. Have you had a chance to meet/get to know any of your fellow Stanford Basketball Class of '17 admits? Kezie? Oscar? Did you get their input during this process? I have been in contact with the other class of '17 commits most recently, but this was not until I had made my commitment. I have a basic knowledge on both players and have great respect for their games and how they go about their business. I believe we all, in combination, have the ability to make great contributions to our team in the coming years. I'm sure we are all equally excited to become a part of the Stanford basketball family.
12. What part of this next chapter in your life are you most excited about? This has been a huge decision for me, but one I believe I am well equipped for. Whilst I am definitely excited to make the move to beautiful Palo Alto, meet new people, and begin a new lifestyle, I am most excited by the opportunity to be a part of a Stanford basketball takeover in the years to come. The coaching staff and playing group all share a passion to be great, and I cannot wait to get to work as we start our journey towards a new era of Stanford Basketball.