December 11, 2014

Bailey bowls over Gorman

Kevin McCarthy

It isn't accurate to say 2015 dual sport prospect Isaiah Bailey burst on the basketball scene this past weekend but it is true that Bailey and his Jesuit High teammates opened some eyes, including more than a few who are receiving their mail in Las Vegas.

photo of Isaiah Bailey

Now no one knows what was in the minds of the Bishop Gorman players prior to last Saturday's get-together with Jesuit in Reno but the expectations of another tough game similar to the recent Bishop O'Dowd pairing more than likely were not front and center. After all, Jesuit's tallest talent stands 6-foot-6 and the Sin City players included 7-foot senior Stephen Zimmerman, 6-foot-11 senior Chase Jeter who is a Duke commit and 6-foot-11 junior Zach Collins. Throw in an O'Bannon and a Payton relative from those basketball royalty families into the backcourt and it was supposed to be a tough go for the young Sacramento area squad.

It was, but for both teams, and with Jesuit winning 51-49. The 6-foot-2 Bailey, who earned Most Valuable Player honors, scored 31 points.

“We watched their game the night before and they feasted on fastbreaks and turnovers,” Bailey said. “So our goal was to beat them on every 50/50 ball. They came out in a 2-3 zone so our plan was to get the ball to our shooters in the corners and stretch them out. I'd say 80% of our points came on three-pointers and free throws.”

It was a slow start for Bailey but he owned the third period. “I had six points in the first half but 15 in the third quarter.” A greater load was assumed by Bailey because Malik Duffy, a 6-foot-6 junior and the second leading scorer, fouled out in the beginning of the third quarter.

“By the fourth quarter, they used a box-and-one on me and a double team every time I got the ball. But one of our guys hit two shots in a row.”

Asked what he views as his best skills, Bailey offered, “I'm stronger than most opponents at 210 pounds so I utilize that strength to my advantage and I also have a nose for the ball. I'm also a competitor and I don't like to lose, even in video games.” What he is working on the most is “controlling the ball on a string and my mid- range jumper.”

There's a basketball lineage in the Bailey family as his father played at Texas Tech and his mother at Lewis & Clark.

However, football also plays a major role with Bailey as he primarily plays wide receiver but also some free safety and outside linebacker. “I participate in spring and summer football camps to help my football recruitment,” he explained. This may limit his off-season basketball participation to a degree but he sees mutual benefits. “it makes my stamina good for basketball and in both it's reading defenses and seeing openings, working to create space and using hand/eye coordination.” Bailey shows good hands as a receiver and the ability to gain yards after the catch.

As for which sport at the next level, “I can play either, I don't close any doors. It's dead in the middle and I'll have to really think about it.”

Bailey's answer to a query regarding his best basketball moments was plural. “I have to put this weekend up there. We were outmatched but outworked them.” The other: “Winning the section title last year.” That was a 96-68 victory versus Rodriguez on March 8.

The 2013-14 Jesuit squad was a veteran one, including forwards Brady Anderson and Lake Lutes plus guard Nick Hilton. “It was four seniors and me as the starters.” An overall 29-4 record resulted and Bailey earned First Team All Delta River League honors as the top scorer on the Marauders.

The personnel isn't the same this season. “We have three freshman and one sophomore playing.” But the Marauders own a 3-0 record thus far including a victory that will remain the talk of this season.