Florida International U

This New York City commitment could be a huge pick up for the FIU men’s basketball team

FIU men’s basketball coach Jeremy Ballard, above, might have a top commitment coming to his program in New York’s Isaiah Richards.
FIU men’s basketball coach Jeremy Ballard, above, might have a top commitment coming to his program in New York’s Isaiah Richards. FIU

When FIU’s men’s basketball team was in New York last month for three games in three days, they came back with more than just two wins.

They also apparently came away with a 6-9, 220-pound center for the Class of 2019.

He’s Isaiah Richards, a late bloomer from Brooklyn-based South Shore High School who announced he has committed to FIU, although he has yet to sign so it’s still unofficial.

When Richards was in the seventh grade, he didn’t care for basketball at all.

“He was into music,” South Shore coach Shawn Mark told the Miami Herald. “He was into beats. He liked to dance. He was into everything other than basketball.”

Just five years later, Richards doesn’t have to worry about paying for college. He has a scholarship to FIU to play basketball, not music.

The only caveat to this is that Richards has yet to sign with the Panthers, and the team and coach Jeremy Ballard cannot comment on him until he is officially part of the program, as per NCAA rules. But, assuming he does end up at FIU, the Panthers will be getting a raw talent who averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks last season, leading the South Shore Vikings to their first-ever Public School Athletic League Class AA championship last season.

The Vikings defeated Queens-based Benjamin Cardozo, 78-66, advancing all the way to the New York State Federation AA championship, where they fell to Archbishop Stepinac, 88-76.

“Isaiah is a tough-nosed kid,” Mark said. “He blocks shots, finishes around the rim and shoots the 15-footer really well.”

THIS AND THAT

FIU’s men’s basketball team (7-2) will end a 12-day break between games this Thursday, when the Panthers will play host to North Florida (4-5). FIU is 4-0 at home. North Florida is 1-4 on the road.

FIU’s last game was Dec. 1, when they traveled to Arkansas and got routed 121-89. Arkansas freshman Isaiah Joe was named SEC Player of the Week after scoring 34 points against FIU, including 10-of-13 on three-pointers. Arkansas forward Daniel Gafford, a projected top-15 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, had 23 points and 12 rebounds, making 9-of-12 shots.

Top Kansas City Royals catching prospect M.J. Melendez — son of FIU baseball coach Mervyl Melendez — will hold his second annual baseball camp on Saturday. For more information, emailmjbaseballcamps@gmail.com.

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