Nate Allen on Arkansas Razorback’s Isaiah Joe
FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas’ basketball coaching staff has changed entirely yet Isaiah Joe’s Razorbacks role remains as implacably steady as his implacably steady demeanor.
Whether planting his skinny 6-5, 175 frame taking a charge from a powerfully out of control 260-pound power forward or effectively dialing long distance shooting threes like his 113 for 273 last season, sophomore guard Joe seems filling the bills for new Coach Eric Musselman’s Razorbacks like he did making the 2019-2019 All-SEC Freshman team for former Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson.
Musselman marvels how the sophomore from Fort Smith Northside seamlessly strides into an entirely new system without signs of a misstep. Of the players he inherited from Anderson and added through recruiting, Musselman said none have adjusted like Joe has adjusted.
“I would say for sure Isaiah Joe has been the steadiest day after day after day after day,” Musselman said. “Performance, attitude, everything.”
Of course the willingness and ability to take a charge and the ability to spread out a defense by consistently hitting threes from different area codes is appreciated by any coach of any system.
Joe does both equally fearlessly.“Taking charges is part of the game,” Joe said. “It gets you the ball back and get you a foul on another player. It’s a big momentum shift to take charges. You have to have a certain amount of pride to take charges. A lot of people don’t like to take charges but it’s there so why not? It’s a lot of pounding on the body but you can get injured doing anything. So you just have got to watch out.”
Joe’s 3-pointers last season thrust like daggers into defenses that seemed to have everything covered until he’ suddenly fire one home from the ozone.
Through what he and teammates Desi Sills, Mason Jones, Jalen Harris call the “Breakfast Club” for their voluntarily crack of dawn shoot arounds at the Eddie Sutton Men’s Basketball Practice Court, Joe aims to keep his shots on target.
“We would do 7 a.m. weight lifts so we would get there at 5:30 to do some shots before our lift,” Joe said. “All that extra work is just going to help us get better. We did a lot of shooting fun in that little Breakfast Club. We probably get 300 or 400 shots.”
Joe said junior point guard Harris, the team assists leader but a woeful 3-point shooter last season, instigated the Breakfast Club and has been feasting on the shots Harris clanked last season.
“He’s definitely started to knock down shots,” Joe said. “He’s devoted his time, that’s why we started the Breakfast Club.”
Joe said whether at the Breakfast Club or during the formal Razorbacks practices, he shoots with a different perspective upon working under Musselman.
“He met with us after he first got up here and he showed us where we were making our shots from and where we were missing our shots,” Joe said. “I saw the percentages and it definitely brought it to my attention.”
Joe came to Arkansas in large part because of Mike Anderson but has gone whole Hog committed to Musselman and the style that Musselman and his entirely new staff bring.
“Stay mentally focused,” Joe said of his personal theme in taking to the new regime. “Every time I’ve heard people talk about going through big changes they said they would lose focus mentally. We just have to make sure we stay strong and stay together as a family.”
Speaking of family, Isaiah was asked if he’s still the best shooter in his family.
Younger brother Jacob Joe stars for Fort Smith Northside. The Grizzlies were last season’s state champion as they were when Isaiah starred for them.
“Jacob is definitely a great shooter,” Isaiah said. “I think he has a better shot than me when I was his age. I’m really proud of him winning that state championship. From my past I know how much winning that state championship means. I hope he wins another one this year.”
By Nate Allen