HAMPTON, Va. – City Rocks (N.Y.) forward Isaiah Stewart can vividly recall being an eighth grader at John Lucas Camp scouring the middle school rankings and finding the top players in attendance so he could matchup against them in order to gauge where his game was really at.
“I wanted to be on the other side of that,” Stewart said.
Fast-forward three years and now Stewart is the player who unknown players view as a potential opportunity to come up.
“It’s crazy when I think about it,” said Stewart, who is ranked No. 8 overall in USA Today Sports’ Chosen 25 for 2019. “I can’t say I knew this was all going to happen; all I knew was how hard I was willing to work to try to make it happen.”
Simple concept, but to say it’s difficult to execute would be a gross understatement.
“You’re just not gonna outwork me,” said Stewart, who scored 21 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked four shots in City Rocks’ 64-52 loss to the Bluff City Legends on Saturday at the Nike EYBL. “I just feel like that’s the one thing I can control, my effort. I’m always gonna give the effort.”
That blue-collar approach helped him post 20 points and 11 rebounds a game at La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) this past season.
He’s been equally dominant this spring for City Rocks and is coming off of his most productive session of the spring in Atlanta where he averaged 20.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and three blocks a game.
Stewart leads the Nike EYBL in rebounding, snagging 10.8 a game.
That production has everyone from Duke to Michigan State to Syracuse, among many others, all in hot pursuit.
City Rocks has already earned a berth in the Nike Peach Jam in July.
“I stay motivated on the court because I don’t think of myself as a guy who’s ranked all high and everything like that,” Stewart said. “I know I have a target on my back, but I look at whoever I’m playing like they’re the ones with the target. Doesn’t matter who it is; I’m coming after you. That’s worked for me.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY