Izaiah Brockington couldn’t help but lick his chops.
On Dec. 9, 2021, highly-touted 2022 NBA Draft prospect Keegan
Murray and his Iowa Hawkeyes were traveling to Ames for an in-state
rivalry game. The 6-foot-8, 225-pound forward was leading the
nation in scoring with an average of just under 24 points per game
(on a scorching 59.3% clip from the field), and the Hawkeyes were
averaging over 90 points per contest at that point.
Through rigorous film study, Brockington observed Murray’s
favorite spots on the court, where he liked to catch the ball and
how he got his buckets. And from the tip, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound
guard followed through. He denied post-entry to Murray time and
time again, helped the helper and put pressure on the Hawkeyes on
By the end of the night, Brockington outscored and outrebounded
Murray while holding him to the worst game of his season by far (9
points on 4-of-17 from the field), while simultaneously delivering
the game's most efficient performance with 29 points, 10 rebounds,
2 assists and 2 steals.
“I feel like that was definitely one of my best games of the
season. I really came into that game wanting to shut him down,”
Brockington told BasketballNews.com in a phone interview. “I went
out there and really tried to take away his strengths and mainly
speed him up. I feel like he was really good when he was allowed to
play at his pace and when guys were giving him space to work and
see what was going on on the floor. So, I really came into that
game wanting to lock him down on defense. And then, the 29 points,
that was a bonus really.”
Unlike Murray, who’s projected to be a lottery pick in most mock
drafts (including No. 6 overall in BasketballNews.com’s latest), you surprisingly won’t
find Brockington’s name anywhere on those big boards. And no, you
won’t find him partaking in this week’s NBA Draft Combine nor the G
League Elite Camp. Considering his size at the guard position
coupled with his ability to rebound, make high-difficulty shots and, most
importantly, defend at a high level, it’s a head-scratcher.
Take into account that Brockington spearheaded a 22-win Iowa
State program that won just two games the season before, an
NCAA-record turnaround, and it just seems like a downright mistake.
So, he’ll just have to prove that he stands out and find other ways
to turn heads — just like he did last December.
“I feel like my work ethic allows me to catch guys that a lot of
people deem 'better' or would rank higher [than me]," Brockington
said. "I feel like I have the intangibles that other people don't.
I have athleticism, and I have the dog mentality — somebody who
just loves to compete and loves to win and isn't gonna let somebody
just walk all over them.
“I love to compete. I attribute it to being from Philly. We just
never back down from a challenge. The intangibles, I feel like, set
me apart. And then, with my work ethic, all of these things that
people say I don't have, I'm working every day and I'm ready to
show everybody that I do [have them].”
Having just worked out for the Atlanta Hawks, Brockington’s list
of interested teams is growing. According to sources, the Toronto
Raptors, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers, New Orleans Pelicans,
Los Angeles Lakers, Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings, Utah Jazz and
Brooklyn Nets are lined up next — and he has five other teams who
asked to schedule workouts at Tandem’s Pro Day on Friday.
Brockington’s lone season at Iowa State went down as the best of
his college career, and he considers it the most fun he had playing
basketball at the collegiate level because the roster was brand-new
and had something to prove.
As a senior, he averaged 16.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game,
was named to the All-Big 12 First Team and earned the 2021-22
midseason John Wooden award. Boasting the Cyclones’ highest usage
rate (27.5%), he took on the most responsibility he had to that
point and ran with the opportunity.
Defensively, Brockington attributes much of his success (93.2
Defensive Rating) to the players he had to guard along the way.
Starting in the Big 12, a conference he refers to as “ridiculous”
in regards to talent, match-ups against Kansas standout Ochai
Agbaji and Baylor’s Jeremy Sochan and James Akinjo helped iron
sharpen iron. The nights were intense and featured high-level
This past season, Brockington was adept at cutting off
catch-and-drives (0.47 points per possession, per InStat) and
defending pick-and-roll ball-handlers (0.54 PPP). It’s something
that he believes carried over his time at Penn State, where he
spent two seasons prior to transferring.
“We were really big on defense, so it was really about angles
over there. And then, going to Iowa State, Coach TJ [Otzelberger]
and our whole defensive scheme was non-stop pressure and to get
guys to go into our help,” Brockington said. “But I feel like...
you can push guys to your help, but it's better to be able to guard
somebody and not need the help. I feel like, yeah, I definitely
would try to cut guys off so that it's not forcing us to rotate and
create long closeouts. Little things like that just help you stay
more compact on defense and just stay more locked on your man.
“So at Iowa State, we would drill things like [pick-and-roll
defense] — getting over screens, being able to communicate and
getting over and under, and just sticking on the ball-handler,
making it tough for them. But, I also feel like I can thrive in an
all-switching situation because I have strength and I have
explosiveness. I feel like when I get caught down in the post, I
can front or just make it tough for bigger guys to get easy
position. I feel like I can thrive in either system, for sure."
During his two years with the Nittany Lions, he took on
different roles and began to blossom under Pat Chambers. Again,
there was plenty of talent to face-off against in the Big Ten, such
as current Chicago Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu at Illinois, San Antonio
Spurs forward Joe Wieskamp at Iowa, Indiana Pacers guard Duane
Washington and future NBA Draft pick Johnny Davis at Wisconsin.
Stylistically, Brockington believes the Big Ten’s physicality
helped prepare him too.
At Penn State, Brockington reconnected with his longtime friend
Lamar Stevens. The now-Cleveland Cavaliers forward performed
night-in and night-out for the team, showing Brockington the
consistency and hard work it takes to be successful. Stevens has
been in his ear throughout the pre-draft process, sharing what
needs to be done and how to stick in the league. Brockington
appreciates the support and encouragement, and he's taking every
bit of that advice.
(Brockington’s collegiate basketball odyssey actually began at
St. Bonaventure, the first of three schools he’d attend. Playing
for Mark Schmidt for one year, he and the Bonnies had a solid
season led by seniors Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley. Brockington
ultimately transferred to Penn State to be closer to home and ended
up sitting out a season, by rule, before suiting up).
As far as translatable skills go at the next level, Brockington
states that his defense and rebounding top the list, along with his
athleticism and ability to get downhill.
In addition, Brockington takes pride in being well-versed in any
kind of role. At St. Bonaventure and early on at Penn State, he did
a bit of everything — serving as a spot-up shooter, a slasher, a
rebounding specialist and a sixth man. He even played spot minutes
off the bench at one point.
At Iowa State, he was a go-to guy, a star player and a leader
for the first time in his college career, so opposing defenses
threw everything but the kitchen sink at him.
“Against certain teams — Texas comes to mind specifically —
[they were], like, face-guarding me. [Texas] Tech would have a guy
pressure and they would have dudes sit in gaps and essentially try
to force me off of the ball. Seeing double-teams and all of that
was new," Brockington said with a laugh. "It was just crazy being
guarded like that in college 'cause I'd never had to deal with
things like that before. I feel like those things really pushed me
to be able to adapt and really try to just make smart
On the offensive end, Brockington has an appetite for the
mid-range. The sly southpaw is able to get to his spots quickly off
the ball and fire away with his leaping lefty jumper, and he likes
to attack off the catch (with fireworks often following). Though he
admits that is the area where he’s most comfortable at the moment,
Brockington understands the importance of being a three-level
“I've been working on really being a combo guard — a guy that
can use pick-and-rolls and make reads and just really making the
right decision every time, a lot of basketball IQ things,”
Brockington said. “And then, just knocking down threes... I've been
working a ton and I'm looking to show everybody that I can knock
down threes off the kick-out and off the pick-and-roll and off the
dribble. I've been working extremely hard on that, and it's been
“I mean, [the mid-range] is an underappreciated part of the
game. But a lot of analytics guys will tell you that it's
inefficient, and that's probably true for most guys. That's just
not the case with me. I feel like when I take mid-rangers, I create
enough space horizontally and vertically to be able to get a clean
Despite spending five years in college, Brockington is only 22
years old because he graduated from high school early. Possessing
that much experience at his age, he considers it an advantage. At
the same time, Brockington says age doesn’t have to do with his
ability to play the game, pick up new information and improve as a
“My experience in college has really taught me about consistency
and taught me what hard work can do, and it's really about the
preparation leading into everything,” Brockington said. “Games are
won way before that time comes. Games are won in the offseason.
Games are won in the film room. Games are won in pregame
shootaround. So those are things I'll always have with
“It hasn't been a typical college journey, but one thing that's
remained the same is everywhere I go, I put my head down and work.
I went out there, I produced and I was out there trying to
For Brockington, growing up in Philadelphia, he’d always attend
his father Antoine’s rec-league games and hear stories about him.
Antoine was a hell of a pro in his own right, achieving tremendous
success overseas after an impressive career at Coppin State, where
he won the 1997-98 MEAC Player of the Year award — and Izaiah
looked up to him proudly.
Now, as the pre-draft process begins, it’s Izaiah Brockington’s
time to carve his own path and make him proud.
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