BURN THE HORSE
We begin our series looking at UALR’s six incoming players with Mareik Isom from Austin, Texas.
Isom is a 6-6 guard who averaged 16.5 points last year for Bowie High School, where he was named all-district, all-region and to the All-CenTex team. The other schools recruiting him included Air Force, Louisiana-Monroe, Manhattan, NJIT, Sam Houston State and Texas-Pan American.
Isom’s father, Kendall, played basketball at Louisiana-Lafayette. And Mareik Isom looks like a lot of the bigger guards that played for Louisiana-Lafayette under Coach Robert Lee, who is now an assistant at UALR.
Somewhat like the story of UALR junior Will Neighbour, Isom had a growth spurt during high school. He was a 5-10 high school freshman and a 6-6 college freshman.
“Mareik is a long, rangy two-three combo player who shoots it exceptionally well. With added strength and weight, he can become a very good player in the Sun Belt Conference,” UALR Coach Steve Shields said. “He’s a 24-7 basketball guy. He really puts in the effort to work on his game during his free time and has benefited from a lot of great coaching.”
Isom had a very good high school coach in Celester Collier, who is the former head coach at Texas State.
He also played AAU for the Austin Ice, which is coached by former San Antonio Spur Johnny Moore.
He shot 49 percent from the field, 48 percent from three-point range and 83 percent from the free throw line as a high school senior. That helped Bowie to its first district championship since the 2006-2007 season.
“Mareik’s skill level is really high. He puts the ball on the floor very well, and also handles and passes the ball well. He can shoot the three and has a great mid-range game off the dribble,” Collier said. “He has great upside and could grow to be 6-7 or 6-8. You’re not going to find a better kid character-wise.”
Isom was an honor roll student at Bowie and showed how important academics are to him when he invited his eighth-grade math teacher Trudy Pzynski to attend his signing with UALR.
While UALR players don’t have to report to campus until the first week of July, Isom is attending the first session of summer school in Little Rock. That could help give him an edge in the weight room, where he needs to add strength.
Upside: He’s a really good shooter and at 6-6 will not have some of the difficulties faced by the seemingly endless line of 5-10 guards UALR has suited up in recent years. It’s difficult to find anyone like him in a long time at UALR.
Downside: He might not have been the best player on his high school team. Bowie’s Paul Baxter, who signed with Sam Houston State, was name the district MVP and defensive player of the year.
Outlook: Without a lot of depth at the forward positions, junior Will Neighbour could have to play more down there. That opens up minutes at the three spot and Isom figures to be in the competition for minutes there.
Next week: Josh Hagins