University of Kansas

KU basketball picks up commitment from Arkansas point guard Issac McBride

KU coach Bill Self and rapper 2 Chainz at 2018 Late Night in the Phog

KU coach Bill Self and rapper 2 Chainz bring down the house on Sept. 28, 2018 during the Jayhawks annual Late Night in the Phog, as the Jayhawks hosted the 34th installment of the season-opening event inside historic Allen Fieldhouse.
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KU coach Bill Self and rapper 2 Chainz bring down the house on Sept. 28, 2018 during the Jayhawks annual Late Night in the Phog, as the Jayhawks hosted the 34th installment of the season-opening event inside historic Allen Fieldhouse.

Issac McBride emerged as a major college point guard prospect his junior year at Arkansas Baptist Prep in Little Rock, Ark., by recording an eye-opening 24.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.6 steals a game for the 30-6 Eagles.

He didn’t attract serious attention from blueblood Kansas, however, until the late-summer AAU season, when the 6-foot-1,180-pound Arkansas Hawks standout showed himself to be somebody with more potential than his No. 109 national ranking (by would suggest.

“Kansas got involved in the July live period. We went to Las Vegas for the Fab 48 (tournament). We played a few games up there. One game in particular a lot of coaches were there to see talented players from Each 1 Teach 1 (AAU team),” McBride said Monday, the day he orally committed to play basketball at KU.

He chose the Jayhawks over Auburn and Virginia.

“Coach (Bill) Self happened to be there with a lot of other schools (as McBride excelled on a big stage). They went to three or four games, told me I had good outings and offered a scholarship after that tournament,” said McBride, who on last weekend’s recruiting visit to KU heard some similarities between his game and that of former KU guard Frank Mason — like McBride, a late bloomer in the eyes of recruiting analysts.

“Coach Self really compared me to him. In a way there were similar stories to how they found Frank Mason also in the same gym in Las Vegas at Gorman (High School),” McBride said.

KU coaches also noticed Mason at the Fab 48 while in the building scouting higher ranked players.

“Coach Self said I was definitely not there yet, but said if I was to come to the university he’d push me to the point where I had some of the same success he had there. I feel coach Self knows what it’s like to take a guard that most people might have passed on, or not seen as great at first, one who’s still developing.”

McBride also heard from in-state schools Arkansas and Arkansas State as well as Oklahoma State, SMU, Georgia Tech, Loyola, Mississippi, Wichita State, Murray State, Western Kentucky and others.

Kansas was the one blueblood that came calling.

“I’ve followed Kansas through high school. Kansas was a big part in elementary school for me, too,” McBride said. “My goal was to play at the highest level I could. It’s always a school I’ve rooted for. I followed them close when Frank Mason and Devonté Graham were taking care of the team, leading them to a high level.

“I saw battles between (Andrew) Wiggins and (Jabari) Parker, Joel Embiid. I’ve seen Kansas greats go through there. (Sherron) Collins is a guard I got to meet at Late Night (on Friday). That was a great honor. I’ve followed Kansas since I’ve been watching basketball. They’ve always been successful. Coach Self does a great job with them, the rest of the assistants. It’s a blessed program.”

McBride knows KU history.

“You can see through conference championships, national championships and the greats who have been there — Wilt Chamberlain and a lot of guys that made noise in the NBA. They are from Kansas,” McBride said. “That stuck out to me a lot and the family environment. You would think a bunch of kids used to winning that are catered to so much would be arrogant guys, mean to people. They are kind to people. It shows the kind of people coach Self recruits. I want to keep it going.”

He’s especially looking forward to playing for KU coach Self.

“He’s a Hall of Fame coach. He is a great coach. I believe he pushes his players to where they need to get to,” McBride said. “All players have talent, but they always need a successful coach. There’s no coach better than coach Self. I believe coach Self is amazing. I love him and he’s a great guy.”

McBride last high school season scored 46 points in a game in December for a team that went on to win its third-straight state title. He had eight games of scoring 30 points or more. He hit 51 percent of his floor shots (44.9 from three) and 80 percent of his free throws.

“Why did his stock rise? (In late July) in Las Vegas, I probably got asked more about McBride of the Joe Johnson Hawks than any other player I came across. So, I settled in to figure out why, and his tough and confident play were why,” Eric Bossi of wrote in a recent article.

“He can score it from deep, finishes at the rim and has a calming presence about him. Is he as good as Frank Mason was? I’m not sure, but he reminds a bit of what Mason looked like when he really started to take off and went to prep school to wait out a scholarship release from Towson,” Bossi added.

McBride is the second player to commit to KU in the recruiting Class of 2019. Christian Braun, a 6-6 senior guard from Blue Valley Northwest, announced for KU on Sept. 17. KU has filled its allotment of scholarships, but plans on signing additional players because several non-seniors are likely to consider entering the 2019 NBA Draft.

Gary Bedore

Gary Bedore covers University of Kansas athletics for The Star.