With so much speculation around the upcoming NBA offseason, many college players delayed their final decision on whether or not to leave college early and remain in the NBA draft. Isaiah Joe was one of those players until today. He has announced via Twitter that he will play his junior season with the Razorbacks. Below is the message from Joe’s twitter.
Joe had reportedly received an invite to participate in the NBA combine, if the event isn’t completely cancelled. He, along with former teammate Mason Jones, were two of 60 players invited to participate in the combine.
College Career So Far
In his freshman season, Joe averaged 13.9 points per game while shooting 41.4% from distance. He started all 34 games he played and helped the Hogs to an 18-16 record, just missing the NCAA tournament.
In year two he bumped his scoring average up to 16.9 points, good for second on the team. He averaged upwards of four rebounds per game and nearly 1.5 steals. His free throw shooting became near perfection as he just missed the 90% mark on the season. His three point shooting regressed slightly to 34.2%. This can be credited to having a larger role on team with limited depth. It also has to do with to his mid-season injury that caused him discomfort in several games, and even to miss five games altogether. Joe and the Hogs were in the midst of an SEC tournament run, one last attempt at an NCAA tournament bid. Unfortunately, a high NIT seed more likely.
Now Joe has a chance to play with a totally revamped roster in year three. The hogs are on pace to field 10 brand new faces that have never worn the cardinal and white in game before. Four are freshman, three are multi-year eligible transfers that sat out last season, and three are graduate transfers that chose to play their final collegiate season under coach Musselman.
The unprecedented pandemic has caused unprecedented issues in all aspects of life, including the sports world. Never have prospects not been able to attend camps and combines to showcase their abilities before a draft. In turn, analysts and scouts have less information to work with than ever before. This has caused a massive range when predicting where Isaiah Joe, or Mason Jones, would land in this year’s draft.
Many sites had Joe as a late second round pick including Bleacher Report (39th) and CBS Sports (50th). ESPN and The Athletic on the other hand had Joe ranked as high as 60th among prospects with a real chance of not being drafted. The latest Overtime Heroics Mock Draft had Joe sliding to 48th to the Golden State Warriors. These low rankings may have played a big role in his decision to return to college for one more season.
Breaking Down Isaiah Joe’s Game
Isaiah Joe is the type of player that could fit with nearly any team that has room for him, including the new look Hogs. He stands at 6’5 with one of the purest shooting strokes you will ever see. His confidence in his ball handling ability is improving, including his perimeter moves designed to create separation for jump shots. Joe utilizes ball-fakes, jab steps, and one-dribble moves to create separation for himself on the perimeter. He has shown good IQ in pick and roll situations, but can often be seen settling for long range bombs even when a driving lane or mismatch presents itself. Luckily for Hog fans, those missiles tend to go in at an impressive rate.
It’s Joe’s defense that is easy to criticize or overlook altogether. Joe did not demonstrate elite one-on-one defensive abilities during his time with the Hogs. He has good footwork on offense but has yet to translate it into staying in front of quicker guards. His smaller stature also makes for a potential mismatch against larger defenders in the paint.
However, his long frame makes him an excellent candidate to patrol passing lanes within a good defensive scheme. Perhaps the most underrated part of Joe’s game is his ability to step in front of a defender to draw a charge from both an on-ball and off-ball position. Even though he missed a total of six games in 2020, he still led Arkansas in total charges taken. The ideal situation for Joe in what will likely be his final season for the Hogs would be to add a little more muscle to his frame and continue to improve his defense. He’s got the IQ to be a team defender, now he needs to improve his foot speed and defensive fundamentals to get ready for the next level.