Throughout his time as a standout basketball player on the Arkansas prep hoops scene, Kansas freshman Issac McBride made a name for himself as a prolific scorer.
Last season, as a senior at Baptist Prep in Little Rock, Ark., McBride averaged 29 points per game and earned All-State and Gatorade Player of the Year honors.
But he might not need to tap into those skills quite as much during his freshman season at KU.
“This is the deepest roster I’ve ever played on in my life, the deepest roster I’ve ever seen,” McBride said recently during a break in summer workouts. “I mean, I know our names don’t scream McDonalds All-Americans across the board, but I feel like, at the end of the day, when you get to college, all that five-star stuff and McDonalds All-American (designation) goes out the door.”
So what can that type of talent and depth do for a player like McBride, who, when on the floor, figures to be asked to run the team and get others involved before looking to add to his own point total?
“It definitely gives us confidence,” he said, speaking of KU’s point guards as a whole.
One of those point guards, of course, is sophomore Devon Dotson, who elected to return to KU for a second season instead of taking his chances in the NBA Draft.
Dotson took his decision down to the wire, pulling his name out of the draft just a few hours before the deadline hit. And McBride admitted recently that he was watching the entire time. But he never let what might happen factor into his thinking about the future.
“No, sir,” he said. “I mean, we’re just playing basketball. I know that may seem cliché or a vague statement. But at the end of the day we’ve got some players. I wished him [Dotson] the best of luck in (testing) the draft waters, but I had a feeling that he was going to come back and try to lead this team to where we need to go.”
Now that they’re here to do that together, McBride is eager to see just what he and Dotson can get out of the rest of the KU roster.
“When you look at this lineup, you see experience and you see guys that are ready to go each and every day,” McBride said. “The team we have right now is experienced and we have a lot of depth and we’ll be able to shoot the ball better. It’s different out there (during a camp scrimmage). But when you see it in a game, you’ll be able to see the improvements we’re making in practice.”
McBride very well could be one of those players who plays an important role as a shooter for the Jayhawks this season. During his senior season, McBride shot 47.5% from 3-point range and his elevation on every attempt and attention to proper technique are signature traits of his jumper.
McBride knows, however, that he still has some work to do before he gets a consistent opportunity to add to KU’s outside shooting.
“(Guys) getting under me and playing at a faster pace, I’m going to have to get used to that, of course,” said McBride when asked what he planned to work on the rest of the summer. “I’m just trying to be me within the game and be aggressive, not be timid. That’s one thing I’ll probably continue to work on all summer.
“(I’m) definitely getting used to the speed and the pressure. I could break anybody down in high school, but now Devon is pushing me and they’re telling me to push him, but he’s definitely getting on me and he’s telling me, ‘Hey, man, we’re going to need you.’”