THE RE­CRUIT­ING GUY All grown up, Isa­iah Joe leav­ing Hawks’ nest

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - RECRUITING/COLLEGE FOOTBALL - RICHARD DAVEN­PORT

LAS VE­GAS — Long be­fore Isa­iah Joe com­mit­ted to play bas­ket­ball for the Univer­sity of Arkansas, Fayet­teville, his father, Der­rick, no­ticed his son had a gift for shoot­ing the ball.

He bought Isa­iah a tod­dler-size bas­ket­ball and goal at 2 years old, and the rest is his­tory.

“He was shoot­ing over an hour a day,” Der­rick Joe said. “I was sit­ting on the couch and be­ing lazy as a dad watch­ing TV, and all I had to do was catch it. He was only shoot­ing 3 feet, so I would re­bound and give it back to him and he en­joyed that.”

The younger Joe has grown up to be one of the bet­ter out­side shoot­ing guards in the na­tion. He dis­played that abil­ity in lead­ing Fort Smith North­side to the Class 7A state ti­tle while av­er­ag­ing 18.8 points, 4.5 re­bounds and 2.2 steals per game and shoot­ing 44.8 per­cent from be­yond the three-point line as a ju­nior.

The el­der Joe has been a part of the Arkansas Hawks pro­gram since the be­gin­ning in 1998, and Isa­iah started play­ing with the Hawks in kinder­garten.

“He was dif­fer­ent be­cause he was so fo­cused,” Der­rick Joe said. “For a kid that young, he had been around bas­ket­ball play­ers, and he had just wanted to be like the big kids and that’s what he was do­ing. He was em­u­lat­ing my brother and some of those other guys he saw play­ing on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.”

Joe, 6-4, 170 pounds, av­er­aged 16 points for the Hawks while shoot­ing 51 per­cent from be­yond the three-point line in Adi­das Gaunt­let league play this spring and sum­mer, and 13.5 points, 2.5 re­bounds and 1.5 as­sists while shoot­ing 57.1 per­cent be­yond the three­p­oint line dur­ing the Adi­das Sum­mer Cham­pi­onships in Las Ve­gas last week­end.

“As a lit­tle kid, I’ve al­ways shot the ball re­ally well,” Isa­iah Joe said. “It was al­ways sec­ond na­ture for me, and I knew I could be a re­ally good shooter in the fu­ture, so I’ve al­ways put the time in the gym.”

He still puts the time in the gym. He’s a reg­u­lar at the North­side gym, where he shoots hun­dreds of shots six days a week for about 20 hours.

“For a reg­u­lar week­day, I’ll prob­a­bly get 700 to 800 up, but be­fore any tour­na­ments, I’ll prob­a­bly get a 1,000,” Joe said.

Joe rarely misses a day of shoot­ing.

“If you miss a day, you can’t make up that day,” Joe said. “So I al­ways try and get in the gym I al­ways try to work be­cause you can get bet­ter by work­ing. I hate the idea of stay­ing the same. I al­ways want to in­crease my skills.”

While he’s known as an ex­cel­lent shooter, Joe is more than ca­pa­ble of play­ing de­fense, driv­ing to the bas­ket and han­dling the ball as a point guard.

“I like to show other parts of my game, es­pe­cially the lit­tle stuff like de­fense and re­bound­ing,” he said. “I try and han­dle the ball a lit­tle bit for the team. Shoot­ing is sec­ond na­ture, but I do have a lot of other at­tributes.”

The el­der Joe has been there to nudge his son, but it’s rarely needed.

“The thing I al­ways tell Isa­iah when it re­lates to work, you like what the re­sults are, right?” Der­rick Joe said. “So in or­der to get those re­sults you have to put in the work. I have to re­mind him of that ev­ery now and then, but he loves the work. He loves to win, and he’s just a re­ally com­pet­i­tive young man.”

Der­rick Joe is proud of the young man his son has be­come and on his fo­cus out­side the gym.

“He spends a lot of time in the gym, but he still main­tains over a 3.7 GPA,” Joe said. “I love that about him, and we don’t have to tell him to do his home­work. He’s com­pet­i­tive on the bas­ket­ball court and in the class­room.”

The younger Joe fin­ished his ca­reer as a Hawk last week­end, and the end was bit­ter­sweet for Der­rick Joe.

“We’ve been do­ing this since he was in kinder­garten,” he said. “It’s start­ing to hit me.”

Email Richard Daven­port at rdav­en­port@arkansason­line.com

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