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Posts tagged with Issac Mcbride

Issac McBride prepared to be Devon Dotson’s replacement, but happy to team with PG instead

Kansas freshman Isaac McBride puts up a 3 over fellow freshman Tristan Enaruna during a scrimmage on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas freshman Isaac McBride puts up a 3 over fellow freshman Tristan Enaruna during a scrimmage on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

For a brief period of time this spring, shortly before he was scheduled to pack up and move to Lawrence to embark upon his college basketball career at Kansas, Issac McBride found himself at least a little preoccupied with the future of another Jayhawk.

While working diligently with his trainer in his hometown of Little Rock, Ark., McBride plugged away keeping in mind that he might arrive at KU not as a teammate of starting point guard Devon Dotson, but as his replacement.

Dotson, of course, was exploring his NBA chances, and it wasn’t until the May 29 draft deadline for withdrawing that Dotson ultimately decided to remain with the Jayhawks.

“That was something that we pondered on every day,” McBride said of Dotson’s decision process and the impact it could have on McBride’s role as a freshman, “considering he might not be able to or might not be coming back. And after we saw his draft combine, he did really well and played very great. And we expected that, because Devon’s a really talented player.”

With Dotson potentially keeping his name in the draft, McBride prepared for a scenario in which he could have ended up being asked to take over KU’s starting point guard duties as a freshman, just as Dotson did this past season.

Enhancing his pick and roll skills immediately became a priority for McBride as a result, with both his trainer and KU assistant coach Kurtis Townsend telling the soon to be freshman he needed to become more effective in those situations.

“We didn’t know if he was coming back or not,” McBride said of Dotson, “but we studied it real closely and then we worked according to if Devon’s not going to be able to come back. But we have him back and that’s going to make our team even more dangerous.”

When McBride discussed Dotson returning to KU he did so not as a player wishing the starting job and/or more playing time would be heading his way this coming season, but as a team-first guard excited to learn from Dotson. McBride said ever since he first committed to KU that Dotson treated him as a teammate, and that Ochai Agbaji and Marcus Garrett really made him feel welcome, too, even before officially joining the roster this summer.

Ultimately, McBride anticipates benefiting from Dotson’s presence over the course of the coming months.

“Having him back is going to be something different, of course. Guarding someone every day that fast, that quick, that strong and that smart,” McBride explained. “It’s only going to make me a better defender and a better player and a tougher competitor.”

Kansas guard Devon Dotson cruises in for a layup during a scrimmage on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devon Dotson cruises in for a layup during a scrimmage on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

McBride could still end up becoming Dotson’s replacement, but that won’t come for at least another year now. Until then, McBride can play against Dotson at practices, pick his brain when the freshman is looking for advice and ease into the spotlight of playing in the backcourt for a nationally renowned program.

“Having someone like that will be a blessing,” McBride said of teaming with Dotson, “and not even a blessing in disguise but just out there. That’s someone that can help not only me, but our whole team. That’s a whole different dynamic to our team.”

Indeed, the Jayhawks will fare far better with Dotson in 2019-20 than they would have without the blur of a point guard. The fact that McBride is so ready to recognize that speaks to his maturity and desire to win.

McBride made sure to ready himself for a season without Dotson, but now that they’ll be teaming up — and with McBride comfortable playing off the ball the duo could give KU an ultra-quick backcourt in spurts — McBride will be even better set up for longterm success with the Jayhawks.

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KU’s 4 freshmen haven’t needed star power to impress observers

Kansas freshman Tristan Enaruna pushes the ball up the court as fellow freshman Isaac McBride defends during a scrimmage on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas freshman Tristan Enaruna pushes the ball up the court as fellow freshman Isaac McBride defends during a scrimmage on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Not one of the four four-star freshmen on the 2019-20 roster screams guaranteed NBA lottery pick at this point, the earliest stage, of each of their college basketball careers at the University of Kansas.

Yet not one of them has failed to impress their new teammates and coaches in one fashion or another during their brief time on KU’s campus.

The Jayhawks’ supposedly underwhelming — at least by the ridiculous standards of this particular program — freshman class is full of players Bill Self is convinced will contribute at some point in the future, even if the coach has not figured out quite yet how much KU will ask of forwards Jalen Wilson and Tristan Enaruna or guards Issac McBride and Christian Braun during their collective debut season.

For what the freshmen may — for now — lack in jawdropping talent or five-star power, it seems they are making up for it with the types of efforts that will earn them not only respect, but also playing time.

“They came in here ready to work,” sophomore David McCormack said Monday of what the youngest and newest players on the team have done to stand out so far. “They play hard. Definitely. The whole group of freshmen, they’re tough. They don’t take crap from no one when it comes to practice or games or anything.”

Perhaps that’s why Self thinks all four could end up factoring into KU’s rotation this coming season.

“I think they’re all good players,” Self said on more than one occasion of the freshmen on Monday. “I think we’ve got to figure out some things with the minutes standpoint, which may be a situation we didn’t think we would have to deal with. But, hey, they’ve all been good (on the court since arriving).”

Kansas newcomer Isaac McBride throws a pass during a scrimmage on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas newcomer Isaac McBride throws a pass during a scrimmage on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Ahead of his 17th season at KU, Self made it clear neither Wilson, Enaruna, McBride nor Braun will leave the type of footprints as freshmen that some of the more heralded recruits Self and his staff have landed through the years, citing the names Andrew Wiggins, Kelly Oubre Jr., Ben McLemore and Josh Jackson.

“But these guys are going to be really good college players,” Self predicted.

From what senior forward Mitch Lightfoot — he’s already a senior? — has witnessed from the freshmen during the summer, he thinks they can make a “huge” impact for the Jayhawks.

“The thing about these freshmen is they play so hard. They’re all willing to get better from what I’ve seen,” Lightfoot shared. “They like to learn. And then coach is obviously confident in them and he’s letting them know that. I think that’s important for them for their development.”

Wilson, who just committed to KU this past week, didn’t arrive in Lawrence until the weekend. On Monday afternoon, when he left KU’s locker room inside Allen Fieldhouse to head to a training session, he turned the wrong direction before Self redirected him toward the correct destination.

The coach and the 6-foot-8 forward who had previously planned to play at Michigan are just getting to know each other. At the moment Self was asked what Wilson will bring to KU’s lineup, the coach made sure to point out that he had only worked with the freshman once since Wilson enrolled.

“But he gives us size, he gives us toughness and he gives us skill,” Self said. “He’s not going to wow you like some people may think, like Josh (Jackson) could from an athletic standpoint and quick twitch standpoint. But he just knows how to play. He’s a winner. And I think his ability to shoot the ball is probably as good, close to as good as anybody on our team. And to have that as a guy that’s potentially a bad matchup four at least at times during the game, I think, is going to be real important to us.”

All four freshmen figure to prove themselves as vital components of a winning KU team next season. Wilson and the 6-8 Enaruna give the Jayhawks some flexibility and size on the wing whenever needed. McBride looks like an ideal backup point guard for Devon Dotson, and would also feel comfortable playing with Dotson. Braun could prove to be one of the Jayhawks’ better 3-point shooters.

None of them will be asked to carry more of a load than they can handle. And all of them just might end up too hardnosed and essential to keep out of a deep KU rotation.

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