Jordan Brand Classic: Isaiah Briscoe transforms JBC into street ball for second-half faceoff

Jordan Brand Classic: Isaiah Briscoe transforms JBC into street ball for second-half faceoff

Jordan Brand Classic

Jordan Brand Classic: Isaiah Briscoe transforms JBC into street ball for second-half faceoff

By

Isaiah Briscoe (right) defends against Allonzo Trier during the Jordan Brand Classic (Photo: Andy Marlin, USA TODAY Sports)

Isaiah Briscoe (right) defends against Allonzo Trier during the Jordan Brand Classic (Photo: Andy Marlin, USA TODAY Sports)

 

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The distance between Newark, N.J., and the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn is approximately 16 miles. On Friday night, it felt much, much closer during the second half of the Jordan Brand Classic.

Isaiah Briscoe, the Newark-based, New York-born Roselle Catholic superstar point guard bound for Kentucky felt a concentrated stretch of love usually reserved for His Airness, Michael Jordan himself. En route to 22 points, the second-highest total on the East squad, Briscoe turned a close faceoff into a one-on-one game of street ball, taking on a rotating caste of All-American defenders.

MORE: Allonzo Trier helps West hold off East

MORE: Why was referee wearing Reeboks at Jordan Classic?

Antonio Blakeney, Malik Newman and Malik Beasley were all prominently drawn into the sudden transformation of Barclays Center into Rucker Park, and Briscoe got the best of all of them in the frontcourt, even if he didn’t always score. Each move drew more rapturous signs of approval from a Brooklyn crowd eager to see man-on-man action.

For Briscoe, the outpouring of support was a welcome fuel, if relatively unsurprising.

“It was time to stop playing, to go out there and try to score,” Briscoe said of the latter stages of the second half. “I’m kind of used to big gyms being filled up and the crowd going crazy. I feed off that energy. It’s something I’m used to.

“I knew there was going to be a big crowd here. I’m an inner city kid. I just wanted to give people a show, and I think that’s what I did. That’s New York basketball. Everywhere you go, every gym you play in, they want to see people go at it. They want to see people compete. I’m no stranger to that and I knew it would be like that.”

Briscoe is also no stranger to winning, something which he couldn’t quite engineer on Friday night, with the West squad escaping with a 118-116 victory, a final score made closer by a final Briscoe three-point salvo with just one second remaining. Still, there were plenty of things that the future Lexington resident could take away from the game. Chief among them? That his future teammates have his back down the stretch.

“I was supposed to come out in the final four minutes, but (fellow Kentucky signee) Skal (Labissiere) went to the coach and said, ‘No, leave him in. He can take my spot.’ That was big of Skal to say something like that. It showed me my teammates believe in me to go win the game, even though we didn’t.”

For Labissiere, it was all about enjoying a future teammate make the most of his moment in the local limelight, all while riding the kind of emotional support that both can expect from Kentucky’s Big Blue Nation in the future.

“It was fun to watch,” Labissiere. “I was excited for him. Isaiah, I love this guy. He’s going to be my teammate next year and it was fun to watch him do his thing out there. He has the best ball handling skills in the country, so it was fun to watch him do his thing out there.”

For one night, he did it in a cauldron of adoration, borne of both New York culture and geography. If he can find the same at Kentucky, his future may be as bright as he hopes.

More USA TODAY High School Sports