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March Madness Prospect Watch Day 3: Jonathan Isaac

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Prospect Watch continues with an athletic prospect from Florida State: Jonathan Isaac. Sound familiar Malik Beasley fans?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Florida State vs Florida Gulf Coast Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Isaac - Florida State

Projected draft spot: 9th (Draft Express), 3rd (CBS Sports), 6th (ESPN)

Stats: 26.0 minutes, 12.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.5 blocks, 50.6 FG%, 35.2 3PT%, 78.6 FT%

Strengths: Physical Tools, Wing Skills, Mismatch Potential, Defensive Impact

Weaknesses: Playmaking, Low Volume, Operated as a Big at FSU

Game Time: Saturday v.s. Xavier @ 4:10 PM MST

What to watch for: Jonathan Isaac is one of those players who immediately looks like an NBA player on tape. His quick twitch leaping ability, paired with a 6’10 frame and a 7’1 wing span, profile him as a solid power forward at the next level. His skills handling the basketball provide another dimension though. He catches the ball and shoots with a quick, clean release from the perimeter, and his handle allows him to attack closeouts in either direction.

One of the aspects of his game Isaac will need to work on is his vision in traffic. 1.2 assists for a featured player at Florida State is pretty weak, and when paired with his 1.5 turnovers, there are legitimate concerns with his ability to react to a crowded interior. He also needs to put on weight to play either forward position. He last weighed in at 205 pounds at the Nike Hoops Summit, and he doesn’t appear to have gained much more since. He will need to add at least 10-15 pounds in order to deal with the physicality of the NBA, even if he sticks at small forward.

Despite some flaws, his offensive and defensive skills deserve the utmost praise. The only three freshmen to amass 12 points, seven rebounds, a steal, and a block per game this season were Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum, and Isaac. His imprint on the defensive end in the deflections he creates with his mobility, leaping, and wing span.

The test for Isaac will always be how he responds to situations outside of his comfort zone. In the first round against Florida Gulf Coast, Isaac posted 17 points on 5/8 FG, hit a three, and went to the free throw stripe nine times. He also posted 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals, and three blocks, truly filling up the boxscore. This is a line that Isaac should try and emulate as much as possible, and one that he is capable of producing in the pros. It came against Florida Gulf Coast though, so the test will be how he performs against a better Xavier team, and potentially even better teams if Florida State can advance.

I will be looking for Isaac to continue being aggressive to the rim and creating easier looks for himself and others. The biggest difference he can make in his draft stock is to simply take over a game, and while it’s not easy with the deep rotation Florida State employs, Isaac needs to give his coach he reason to leave him on the floor. Many games, Isaac has disappeared, and that can’t happen again.

The Nuggets would likely have to trade up for Isaac at this point, but in terms of great fits next to Nikola Jokic at power forward, there are few who make as much sense. Isaac is learning to spread the floor and handle the basketball on top of his cutting ability, fast break prowess, and defensive capabilities. If the Nuggets deem the price to be right for Isaac’s services, they could make a move for him if he falls past the middle of the lottery.