CARTERSVILLE, Ga. – Isaiah Todd is the prototypical new-age big; 6-foot-10, handles the ball like a guard, gets up and down the floor like a gazelle and knocks down the perimeter jump shot respectably.
Skills and attributes that even the most elite players could only dream of being fortunate enough to combine; but when you factor in the fact that he’s still just a freshman at John Marshall (Richmond, Va.), it gets downright scary.
“People tell me all the time that I’ve got the potential to be the No. 1 player in the 2020 class,” Todd said. “But a lot of people have the potential to be good. I just work hard on getting better in every area.”
Todd certainly got the proverbial “next big thing” elite crowd parked court side Saturday.
Coaches from Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and Villanova all watched Todd score 21 points, grab 13 rebounds and block six shots to lead Team Loaded-VA 16’s past Texas Pro in overtime 61-58 at the adidas Gauntlet.
“He’s got all the tools, there’s no question about that,” Team Loaded-VA coach Chris McFarland said. “That said, he can’t walk on a college campus and demand minutes today because he’s not there yet. We teach him to focus on the little things like running the floor, playing with intensity, protecting the rim… He works so hard and he’s talented, but he’s an even better teammate. Hs got what it takes to live up to the hype.”
Those whispers started to get louder after Todd pumped in 13 points, nine rebounds and four blocks per game this season at John Marshall.
“When I read stories talking about me and look at Twitter and see people talking about me they always talk about my potential,” Todd said. “But people talking about what I could be doesn’t make me better. That’s just potential.”
Todd’s mother Marlene Venable often reminds him that potential means possible, which, in turn, only means one thing: “He’s got more work to do,” Venable said. “I think it’s nice that everyone is talking him up and everything, but that can’t effect how hard he works. I teach him to focus on that part of it. I always want him to stay humble.”
To make sure of that, Venable makes Todd’s home life as normal as any regular 15 year old, chores and all.
“If he’s not a star at home, he can’t be a star on the court,” said. “I tell him all the time that character will take him a lot further than talent will. We keep God first and focus on those things. But I tell my son the truth; you have not arrived so don’t carry yourself that way. Stay hungry.”
Todd’s play certainly suggests that he’s taken heed to that message, and in the event that the he fulfills that No. 1 potential?
“That just means the work gets harder,” Tod said. “Because then you’ve gotta keep that spot. That’s even harder work.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY