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Larry Vaught Weekly: Competition Sings Briscoe’s Praises

SEC opponents know how good UK sophomore Isaiah Briscoe is and don’t expect shooting or scoring to be an issue with him.

By: Larry Vaught

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Isaiah Briscoe certainly has earned the respect not only of Southeastern Conference coaches, but also SEC players.

“He is a tough defender and player and underrated playmaker. Really he was an underrated player for them last year. He makes the game easier for others,” said Georgia guard J.J. Frazier, a preseason all-SEC pick just like Briscoe. “They had Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray last year, but he was that piece that made them go.

“When he didn’t play well, they typically didn’t play well. He is a really good, strong one-on-one defender and it takes more than one move or two moves to get by him. He doesn’t quit on the play. He just makes it tough. Even if you score on him, it was a tough, tough shot. That’s all defense is — making it tough on your opponent and that’s what he does.”

Briscoe said he was on the same team with Frazier when they worked out for the Minnesota Timberwolves before last summer’s NBA draft.

“It’s funny he said that about my defense. He is strong and tall. I just have a pride thing and on defense. I don’t like getting scored on. I take it to heart. I challenge myself,” Briscoe said.

Florida guard Kasey Hill knows Briscoe from AAU play as well as attending some of the same all-star camps.

“He is a tough competitor. I think one time we were shooting free throws and one of his bigs was up closer to free throw line when our guy was shooting free throws. That showed me he is a competitor because he wanted to make sure he got the rebound,” Hill said.” He is trying to get down there and make plays for his team. He has a nice game. He is cool. He is one of my good friends. I like him a lot.

“He just wants to win. Great shooting goes out the window when you are a competitor. It doesn’t matter what people say about you if you are a competitor, you are going to take your shots. If you make them, you make ’em. If you miss, you miss. But as long as you are competing for the right reasons, that’s all that matters.”

Briscoe did have trouble making both 3-point shots and free throws last year, something that surprised LSU sophomore Antonio Blakeney who counts Briscoe as a “good friend” because of their experiences as younger players together.

“I know when I played with him at all-star games, AAU events and camps, he always shot well then. The Isaiah Briscoe I know can shoot free throws and 3’s with confidence,” Blakeney said. “I think he is a really good player. With the ball in his hands, he can do a lot of great things. Confident guy who has confidence in his game.

“He has always been tough since high school. He’s always been a competitor — wanting to guard the best player, play against the best player. That’s how he has always been. He is really strong and hard to stop. He has game. He has nice moves and can make plays for himself and his teammates. That’s how he can get inside.”

Blakeney says the two often played one-on-one games when no one was around like at the McDonald’s All-America Game in Chicago after their high school senior seasons.

“That’s been my boy for a long time. He is a competitor, I am a competitor,” Briscoe said of Blakeney. “If it is a court and just us two, why not play one-on-one and work on your game and bring the best out of each other.”

Briscoe has vowed to be a more vocal leader this year. Can he do that?

“I think he can do it. The Isaiah Briscoe I know was good at stuff like that,” Blakeney said.

“Becoming vocal is very hard, especially if you are a guy that does not say much off the court and you just are not a big talker. Then you have to get on the court and talk all the time, especially at point guard,” Hill said. “It can be hard and uncomfortable at times. But if you are doing it for the team and the right reasons, it makes it a little bit easier for you and that’s how it will be for him.”

Frazier said it is a logical assumption to expect Briscoe to improve in most categories this year because of his talent and experience.

He is older and knows more and has seen more. He has dealt with adversity,” Frazier said. “When things get a little tough in a game, he can be there to try and calm the storm for everyone. That’s always good to have.”

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