Don’t ask me how, but I was able to obtain Isaiah Briscoe’s hand-written list of personal goals for the 2016-17 season. Now that he’s set to return for a sophomore campaign in Lexington, Briscoe has a lot of work ahead to improve his NBA stock for next year, and guide the Wildcats to the Final Four.
Give it a quick read and then I need to sneak it back into his desk drawer in the Lodge.
If Briscoe had anything closely resembling a consistent jumper, he would be a first-round pick in the upcoming draft. He does not, unfortunately, and there aren’t any NBA organizations currently seeking a shooting guard with a 13.5 percentage from beyond the arc.
Briscoe’s poor shooting his freshman season is the only thing keeping him from being a one-and-done player, his goal since he first committed to Kentucky. If he’s able to develop a jump shot between now and this time next year, he’ll make himself a lot of money with only one additional year of college to his original plan.
Briscoe was historically bad at the foul line last season. So bad, it’s almost impossible for him to do any worse. He ranks dead last in the history of the program (yes, entire history) in free throw percentage by a guard, with a 46 percent clip on 124 attempts. For a player so good at getting to the rim and drawing fouls, that is unacceptable — and might as well be a turnover.
Briscoe will return to the Big Apple for not one, but two homecoming games during UK’s 2016-17 non-conference schedule. After having the entire Barclays Center crowd behind him in the 2015 Jordan Brand Classic, he said, “Honestly, every time I play in New York, [fans] do that. It’s my city.”
After scoring 12 points and holding Grayson Allen to only six against Duke last year, Briscoe’s mouthpiece, which became famous in that game for hanging out of his mouth, disappeared for the season.
It’s time to bring it back, regardless of what Calipari thinks of it. The mouthpiece has proven results.
Briscoe became best friends with Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray shortly after they all teamed up on campus in summer workouts. That wasn’t always the case, though; Briscoe told ABC 36 that he and Murray did not care for one another as competitors on the AAU circuit. It wasn’t until a trip to the Lexington Hooters that they became great friends, along with Ulis.
With Ulis and Murray now gone, it is time for Briscoe to find new friends. De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk, who will replace Ulis and Murray in the three-man backcourt, seem like feasible options.
Ulis called Briscoe and Murray his “sons” last season; now a sophomore Briscoe can say the same about the incoming guards.
Briscoe embraced the role of lockdown defender and provided much-needed help on the boards last season. If he plays with that same fire and finds his jumper? SEC Player of the Year candidate and millionaire in June 2017.
With only one returning senior that will see ample playing time, and six new freshmen coming in, the door is wide open for someone to step in and take the lead of the team. Derek Willis or Dominique Hawkins could potentially be that guy, but it needs to be Isaiah Briscoe.
Made famous by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist during the 2012 title season, the “Breakfast Club” workouts returned to UK last year with Ulis and Briscoe spearheading the early morning routine. Ulis is gone, but the weight room and alarm clocks haven’t changed a bit.
The Lexington Herald-Leader’s Jerry Tipton notoriously asked Briscoe what it was like being the “lesser of three lights” in a backcourt with Ulis and Murray last season. Briscoe handled the question with class at the time, but now it is his turn to shine brightest in a new three-guard lineup.