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Isaiah Bailey lists USC as the leader in his recruitment (8/21/12), Player Evaluation

A long, growing small forward, (Isaiah) Bailey has an ideal frame, very good athleticism, terrific body control, an improving handle and a mindset to score. He loves to attack an score from midrange and in and has very good vision. He’ll need to improve his three-point shot and he has to play with a consistent effort. Should he make progress in both areas, the future is bright.






Isaiah Bailey possesses the athletic ability most coaches only hope of securing. He also possesses the tendency to leave those whom have coached him experienced in frustration. As some view it, most consistent in Bailey’s game is its inconsistency. There are glimpses of brilliance. A spin move in traffic leading to a pinpoint pass to a cutting teammate, for an easy two. A blocked shot at one end, leading to what should be a 1 on 2 run-out. Should be 1 on 2, but the 1 (Bailey) outruns the two (PG and SG) and slams home an emphatic dunk. These “glimpses” often trigger a cavalcade of D1 coaches chomping at the bit to secure a commit. In Bailey’s case, that has yet to transpire. He has his share of suitors (On the Recruiting Front), but the amount and level of interest on the part of elite D1 programs, belies the talents of the 6’5 Compton High (Ca.) small forward. A strong summer performance may have invigorated Bailey’s recruitment, and should a strong 2012-13 high school season follow, the pursuit of Bailey’s commitment may better match what appears unmistakable talent.


Bailey carries “jump out the building” hops and thrives above the rim. High-level body control and explosive leaping afford Bailey the opportunity to play “taller” than his 6’5 frame implies. He is aggressive off the dribble and shows little to no signs of fear/hesitation when attacking the rim. The 6’5 wing holds a quality array of spin moves which he employs in the open court and the low post/lane. He carries high-level quickness and routinely outruns smaller players. Possibly most intriguing to Bailey’s game is the exceptional court vision and awareness he displays. His rep as an aggressive finisher encourages defenses to collapse the lane as he drives the hoop. Bailey oft counteracts the collapse in finding a now defender-less teammate for an easy go at the hoop. Although not a consistent threat from long-range, he does hold a nice mid-range game which forces defenders to honor his jumper. Were he to develop improved results from behind the arc, Bailey would prove a difficult assignment for even the most adept defenders. Asked which area(s) of his game he is working to improve, Bailey responded “Handles…. I want to be able to handle the ball like a point guard”. Already possessing impressive handles for a player of his length, further improvement may cement Bailey’s standing among elite 2-guards. On the defensive side, Bailey is on the verge of lock-down status. 3 steals a game (2011-12) would have been good enough for 14th in California (among sophomores), and with focused coaching and technique, Bailey could prove special on the defensive front.

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As intriguing a prospect as there is on the West coast, there is no doubt a measure of that intrigue is born of perceived inconsistency. Although rates Bailey a 4-star, the staff lists under “Areas for Improvement”, hustle. Therein lies the aforementioned “frustration” circling around the game of Isaiah Bailey. The talent is eye-popping. The bounce and court-vision are next-level caliber, and there’s little doubt he carries the offensive and defensive tools of an elite D1 prospect. In review if 2011-12, however, averages of 15 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals represent productive play, but elite? That jury, at least in the minds of some, remains out. Asked for his take on characterization of his game, Bailey replied “I really don’t get involved with things like that cause I know I leave my heart on the floor every time I step out there.” Bailey may disagree, but perception is reality. End of the day, there appears questions regarding his efforts and willingness to sell out. Given his obvious talent, the numbers do not necessarily endorse Bailey’s self-review. Based on talent alone, the 4-star out of Compton should average 15 and 6….through 3 quarters. Teamed with fellow D1 prospect (now with Oregon State) Victor Robbins, Bailey and the Compton high crew went 19-10 (2011-12). Again, good, but not outstanding. What may ultimately determine Bailey’s ceiling, and his D1 options, is his ability and/or desire to play above what he sees as his limits. On the skill side, Bailey’s jumper remains a tad inconsistent. He has a tendency to jump forward when shooting, which may prove problematic as higher level defenders narrow his shooting window. Bailey is also prone to forcing shots. He will resort to difficult looks and off-balance attempts, hampering his offensive efficiency. Given his outstanding court awareness and vision, this tendency for unwise shots, proves all the more confounding.

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I expect a huge 2012-13 out of Isaiah Bailey. With Victor Robbins now running PAC-12 courts with OSU teammates, the course of Compton High’s season will follow that of Bailey. My guess is he will overcome concerns regarding hustle and effort, turning each into fuel in the further development of his game. I project his 2012-13 averages in the range of 18-21 points, 8-9 rebounds, 5-6 assists, and 3-4 steals. Although I am not convinced he will develop a high-level 3pt game, I am confident defenders will need to honor his shot out to 17-18 feet. Achieving this improved range will render Bailey that much more difficult to defend. Length and quickness supply Bailey the opportunity to impact on the defensive end. I believe those efforts/results will also ratchet up a notch. The ’14 standout should find himself with a leadership opportunity come the start of 2012-13 play, one which he would be well-served in seizing. The upcoming season may represent a crossroad. Should concerns of effort and “hustle” remain, little will change on the recruiting front. Should, however, Bailey’s play squash those concerns, the offers/interest will almost certainly fall in line with the undeniable talent. Assuming 2012-13 unfolds as I project, watch out come 2013-14. As he reviews D1 opportunities, I believe Bailey would thrive in a press/transition-heavy system, allowing his athleticism and hyper-quick decision making the opportunity to take over.

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Isaiah Bailey holds offers from the following: Gonzaga, Oregon State, San Diego State, UCLA, and USC.
Earlier today Bailey took an “unofficial” to the USC campus, and this afternoon confirmed the Trojans as the front-runner for his commitment.
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  1. […] Isaiah Bailey ’14 SG/SF […]

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