Isiah Brown will slip on his headphones for the bus ride. He gets apprehensive before games, so he’ll shuffle to R&B to calm his nerves.
Later he’ll switch to rap – Future and Drake are go-tos.
On the court he plays with a rhythm much like the music he loves – or even one of the plethora of songs he and his teammates have created at Lakeside School’s digital media studio. Brown sings.
“I play off feel and off rhythm,” Brown said. “Whenever I get space, I feel like I can make it.”
And he made a lot.
Brown set the Metro League record with 2,372 career points in four years at Lakeside, averaging 33.8 points per game his senior season and earning The News Tribune’s state boys basketball player of the year.
There’s no scoring record more respected in the state than the Metro League’s. It previously belonged to Ballard’s Michael Johnson, but it’s also a league that’s seen more NBA players than any other – Doug Christie, Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson, Brandon Roy and Jason Terry to name a few.
None scored more than Isiah Brown.
“If I can have any player in the state and I’m down by two with two minutes to go, I’d pick Isiah,” Seattle Prep coach Mike Kelly said.
2,372Career points Isiah Brown scored in four years at Lakeside. That set the Metro League record previously held by Ballard’s Michael Johnson. He tied the league record his sophomore year with 53 points against O’Dea — the opening night of the school’s Paul G. Allen Athletics Center. He was named the 3A Metro MVP this year.
33.8Points per game Isiah Brown averaged his senor year at Lakeside. He holds the school record for points per game in a season (33.8) and points in a single season, scoring 867 his junior year, which ended in the Tacoma Dome.
Brown said he has accepted he won’t play in the Tacoma Dome again. Seattle Prep ended Lakeside’s season with a 76-72 double-overtime victory and Brown scored 45 points, with 39 coming after the first half.
He tied former Lincoln and Clover Park standout Ahmad Rorie’s three-day tournament record with 78 points at the Dome last year.
Brown took a lot of shots. He averaged 24 per game, and averaged another 11.6 free throws. But he shot 45 percent from the field – a startling number considering the Metro League has been the toughest in the state in his four years there.
That means teams have four years of film and four years of notes. And still couldn’t stop him.
“He’s doing this against double teams from the best teams in the state,” said teammate Isaiah de la Fuente. “He’s giving all those teams 40 points when he’s been game-planned for.”
On and off the court, he carries himself with poise. Lakeside coach Shea Robinson said he never sees Brown rattled or angry.
I talked about this on senior night — when I gave him his 1,000-point ball, or his 2,000th, he’s obviously happy for those because of the time he put in. But in this time today with social media and it’s ‘look at me’ he’s been the opposite of that. To me, his legacy is one of ‘that’s how you are supposed to be no matter how good or bad you are.’ The way he carries himself says a enough to me about who he is as a person.
Lakeside coach Shea Robinson
He and his teammates took a personality test his sophomore year and said he placed directly in the middle of dominant and submissive. No one else did.
Brown doesn’t have a lightning-quick shot, and he’s never dunked in a game. But he said he’s always thinking, studying the defense. He’s watched film of every one of Stephen Curry’s games twice or three times through, and doesn’t believe he’s missed one of Curry’s collegiate game tapes at Davidson from his junior year on. Brown, at 6-foot-2, used that to learn how he can get off shots over larger defenders.
But did he shoot too much?
“No,” Robinson said. “He was doing what we needed him to do. He knew he needed to make plays to help us win.”
De la Fuente admitted there was the occasional “Isiah …” in his mind most every game. But then there’s the time like against Rainier Beach: Brown came off a screen from “maybe a dribble or two inside half court,” and hoisted it over Beach’s 6-foot-7 and 6-foot-6 defenders.
“I passed him the ball, he shoots it, and turns around and starts running back on defense. He felt the shot and knew it was going to go in,” de la Fuente said. “It took a while for it to get there, so by the time he crossed half court, the shot dropped. Didn’t even touch the rim.”
Seattle is special to him, but Brown claims Anchorage, Alaska, as home. He was born there and moved with his family to Seattle just before middle school – all for basketball.
He’ll head to Northwestern in Chicago next fall and he said he hopes to etch his name among some of those other Metro League greats and one day make the NBA. He remembers being asked to watch games between Isaiah Thomas, Spencer Hawes, Crawford, Robinson and Terrance Williams at Rainier Vista, then being allowed to work out with them, then play. He’s been groomed.
“My parents have sacrificed an incredible amount with all the flying me places for basketball, and moving here,” Brown said. “That’s why we do this. That’s why we work as hard as we try to do. That’s something, my dad and I, we’ve focused on since I was a little kid when I told him I wanted to play basketball.”
You could say fulfilling that dream would be sensational – just like the title of one of the first songs he helped create.
“We’ve come a long way since ‘Sensational,’” Brown chuckled.
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677
2015-16 TNT ALL-STATE BOYS BASKETBALL TEAM
State player of the year: Isiah Brown, Lakeside of Seattle.
Coach of the year: Ed Haskins, Garfield.
G Isiah Brown, Lakeside of Seattle, 6-1, senior
Metro League’s all-time leading scorer says enough about Northwestern signee’s prolific career.
Stats: 34 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists per game.
G Malchi Flynn, Bellarmine Prep, 6-2, senior
TNT All-Area player of year passed Avery Bradley’s school record for points in a season (743).
Stats: 30 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists per game.
F Jalen McDaniels, Federal Way, 6-10, senior
San Diego State signee a matchup nightmare/highlight waiting to happen. Guard skills with 6-10 frame.
Stats: 19 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks per game.
F Tony Miller, Woodinville, 6-6, senior
Greatest player to walk Woodinville’s halls. Took team from cellar to back-to-back state appearances.
Stats: 28 points, 12 rebounds per game.
G Jaylen Nowell, Garfield, 6-4, junior
Will be the state’s most recruited player over the next 15 months. Already has Pac-12 offers.
Stats: 17 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists per game.
F Alphonso Anderson, Garfield, senior
13 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists
G Steven Beo, Richland, senior
27 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists
G Sam Cunliffe, Rainier Beach, senior
21 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists
G JaQuori McLaughlin, Peninsula, senior
17 points, 8 assists, 5 steals
G Aushanti Potts-Woods, Curtis, senior
25 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks