LEXINGTON, Ky. – He’s baaaaaack. Kentucky men’s basketball freshman guard Isaiah Briscoe plans to return to UK for the 2016-17 season after going through the process of declaring for the NBA Draft. Utilizing new NCAA rules that allow players to “test the waters,” Briscoe entered the NBA Draft without hiring an agent to protect his NCAA eligibility with the option of returning to school. Players had until 10 days after the conclusion of the combine to make a final decision based on the new rule between the NCAA and NBA so long as they didn’t hire an agent.
On Wednesday, May 25, Briscoe informed UK of his intention to come back to school. He will join Derek Willis, Dominique Hawkins, Isaac Humphries, Mychal Mulder and Tai Wynyard as 2016-17 scholarship returners. “I really grew from this experience and I appreciate the opportunity to be evaluated by these NBA teams,” Briscoe said. “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.” Briscoe will return as the leading scorer and rebounder to form a nucleus alongside the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class (according to Rivals and ESPN), which features Edrice “Bam” Adebayo, De’Aaron Fox, Wenyen Gabriel, Sacha Killeya-Jones and Malik Monk. With Briscoe coming back to school, UK will return 24.2 percent of its scoring and 30.0 percent of its rebounding from last season. “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,” head 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.” Briscoe transformed into an elite defender during his freshman season and one of the best-rebounding guards in the country. He averaged 5.3 boards per game in 2015-16 and scored in double figures in 18 games. The Newark, N.J., native posted 9.6 points and 3.1 assists per game. Among Briscoe’s highlights included a double-double (11 points and 12 rebounds) in his season debut and a double-double (13 points and 11 rebounds) in the NCAA Tournament win over Stony Brook. Three times this past season he posted at least 10 points, at least five rebounds and at least five assists in a game, and four times he scored 15 or more points, including a career-high 20 at UCLA. Briscoe ranked ninth in the SEC in minutes per game at 32.2 and was also among the league leaders with a 1.6 assist-to-turnover ratio. He’s among the top 10 performers in the Calipari era in total assists, assist-to-turnover ratio and assists per game after one season.
Photo by Jamie H. Vaught