CHICAGO — To be clear: Isaiah Briscoe is tired of talking about Kentucky. Understandably, he got a lot of questions Friday at the NBA Combine about the place he played college basketball for the last two seasons. A ridiculous number of players have been drafted out of that program, which is Briscoe’s current (albeit unlikely) goal.
“All the Kentucky questions, I don’t play for Kentucky no more!” Briscoe yelped. “I’m just trying to start fresh.”
Maybe it bothers him that four other Wildcats are projected to be picked in the 2017 NBA Draft in June, but Briscoe is not. Perhaps it stings that the former McDonald’s All-American point guard had to play off the ball most of his UK career — and in the shadow of star guards Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray as a freshman, then De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk as a sophomore.
Whatever the reason, Briscoe seemed salty over the mere mention of his former school.
“I enjoyed my time at Kentucky, it was fine, but I moved on,” he said, declaring that his pro position will be point guard. “Obviously, I wasn’t playing point guard in college, but it is what it is. College is over with. Why we still talking about college? I’m starting a new chapter in my life.”
He did thank John Calipari and the Cats’ coaching staff for the opportunity to play for the winningest program in college basketball history. He started 69 games in two seasons and was an integral part of two NCAA Tournament teams, including the one that lost to UNC on a last-second shot in this year’s Elite Eight.
But stop asking him about Kentucky. When a reporter sought a quote about Monk’s 47-point game against the Tar Heels in the regular season: “It was a good game.” When that reporter wondered what kind of NBA scorer Monk might be: “Good scorer.”
The good news for Briscoe: That edge might serve him well as he faces a steep challenge in trying to get drafted.
“I’m from Newark, man,” he said. “I’ve been doing this my whole life. It’s nothing new. I’ve been fighting my way out, scratching, all that. Where I’m from, not too many people make it to here. I’m out here, I’m fighting. That’s what I’m used to.”
Briscoe was a little heavy at the combine but tested well, then delivered a solid showing in two 5-on-5 scrimmages for NBA scouts, coaches and general managers: 46 total minutes, 28 points (on 10-of-17 shooting), 11 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block and 7 turnovers.
One question about UK that Briscoe didn’t balk at was about how the program prepared him for this process.
“I’ve been playing against NBA guys for the last two years and pretty much all my life, so it’s nothing new,” he said. “And then the combine we have at Kentucky, I think it’s more pressure there than in here, because the gym is so small and everybody’s on top of you.”
Most players at the combine on Friday said they’d already interviewed with 8-10 NBA teams or more. Briscoe had only met with one, the Miami Heat. The way he sees it, though, he only needs one team to give him a chance.
“They’re getting a winner, a competitor,” he said, “and a guy that loves the game of basketball.”