The most difficult aspect of effective talent evaluation is not judging what it is you are looking at, but rather projecting how that talent will evolve and produce in 2-3 years and against a higher level of competition. For ’11-’12 Lewis went for 12.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 4.4 assists for the (19-8) Christ the King Royals. Solid, good even, but not jump off the page. Playing 9 games for the (1-19) AAU New York Metro Hawks, Lewis chipped in 11.2 points, 2.3 rebounds, and a little over 1 assist per game (21.8 min per game). Again, solid, but not spectacular. So what’s catching the attention of Coach Self, and that of so many other high level Coaches/programs? Projectability. As a 6′ 170lb junior Austin effectively holds down the Point. What Coaches are most likely banking on is the nightmare match-up Lewis will prove if he grows to 6’6+ and fills out to north of 185-190lbs.
The ’11-’12 campaign was a challenging one for Lewis. Started better than it ended, and at one point was met with a “Did Not Play, Coaches Decision”. His suitors however, were not, and have not been, dissuaded. Kansas may be a frontrunner, but interest from traditional powers the likes of North Carolina, Louisville, and what Lewis labels his “dream school” UCLA. Citing ’12-’13 goals as “win a state and city championship and also try to be the next McDonald’s All-American out of NYC” Lewis is looking to rebound from a somewhat bumpy ’11-’12 and reaffirm his place among the nation’s elite High school recruits. 4-Star Chris the King teammate Omar Calhoun has now graduated and is bound for the University of Connecticut. What ensues, what Isaiah Lewis makes of the opportunity the ’12-’13 season represents, may ultimately determine whether Lewis remains “projectable” or is relegated the “project” label.
Although the stats may belie the immense talent, video (even edited), rarely lies. Lewis is blessed with high level athleticism, keen court awareness, and the ability to routinely beat his man of the dribble. If or when those talents are harnessed, you might not find a talent ceiling high enough to contain the New York hooper. Won’t surprise me to look up come the end of ’12-’13 and find Lewis having averaged 14-16 points, 6-7 rebounds, and 5.5-6.5 assists. That comes to fruition and Coach Self may once again be found making a last minute pre-Tourney game phone call to insure his highly touted ’13 target has tuned in. The ball is in Isaiah Lewis’ court….and that’s normally a very good thing.