Caught between a low NBA grade and an all-star incoming class, Isaiah Briscoe decided to cast his lot with the latter on Wednesday morning.
The Kentucky Wildcats guard announced his sophomore return via Twitter:
Bbn im back !!!!!!!!!!!
— Slim Bz (@ZayBriscoe) May 25, 2016
Briscoe, a five-star guard from Roselle Catholic (N.J.), started 33 games for the Wildcats this past season, averaging 9.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists for John Calipari‘s squad, which advanced to the Round of 32 before falling to Indiana in the NCAA tournament.
“I really grew from this experience and I appreciate the opportunity to be evaluated by these NBA teams,” Briscoe said in a release. “I also want to thank the coaching staff and the fans for their support during this time. The NBA is my ultimate goal, so I’m returning to build on last year. There’s no better place to grow as a player or to win a championship, and I want to do both.”
Projected by some sites as a potential lottery pick before the season tipped off, Briscoe’s iffy jumper helped sink his draft stock as the year wore on.
DraftExpress.com currently lists Briscoe as the No. 84 prospect in this year’s draft.
Wednesday marked “deadline day,” when prospects who had not signed with agents were forced to make the decision: back to school, or not?
Briscoe is back, but his starting spot is not necessarily a sure thing. Calipari is bringing in perhaps his most talented freshman class ever, with five-star guards Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox expected to play plenty of minutes.
Earlier this month, rising-sophomore guard Charles Matthews decided to transfer instead of battle for playing time in 2016-2017.
Briscoe presumably wants another season to prove his NBA worth on the offensive end, but that will be tough with such prolific scorers around him in Lexington.
“After finishing up academically, Isaiah Briscoe used the new rules to the fullest by working out for eight different teams to get a true barometer on where he stands at this point in his career,” coach John Calipari said. “I can tell you all the teams were impressed with him physically, defensively, his rebounding ability, his strength, his ball-handling ability and his basketball IQ. He shot the ball well at the NBA workouts but will look to continue to improve that to take the next step in his career. With that said, he’s pulling his name out of the draft and returning to Kentucky as the leading scorer and rebounder. Without his impact and competitive spirit, last year’s team would not have been nearly as successful. I fully expect him to come back and be a leader on and off the court for this young team. I’m excited to have him back.”