It was almost always clear that recent Portsmouth grad Isiaha Lisath would be attending the University of Pikeville in the fall. The real questions were whether he would continue his athletic career, and whether he would focus on basketball or football.
Those questions were answered last Friday, when Lisath signed on to play basketball for the Bears this winter.
After taking a recruiting trip to the UPike campus last fall, Lisath fell in love with the small-town campus and football coaches. But after defensive backs coach Matt Nardo left Pikeville in June, Lisath had a change of heart.
“I heard about their basketball program and I heard it was very good,” he said. “When they offered me a basketball scholarship, I thought it was an easy bet.”
Lisath said he is still open to playing football starting his sophomore season.
A sharp-shooting specialist, Lisath started every game at shooting guard during his senior season. He averaged eight points a game, with over half of his points coming via the 3-pointer. Lisath also brings intensity to the defensive side of the ball. Often guarding the opposing team’s best player, Lisath averaged just over 1.0 steals per game while keeping the SEOAL’s biggest scorers in check.
“He’s a very gritty player, hard nosed,” Trojan head coach Gene Collins. “I wouldn’t call him fast, I wouldn’t call him slow, he’s just a kid that really works hard and is very gritty.”
Lisath has been working hard this summer to adapt his game to the college level. He’s focused on his ball handling skills, which he says are much improved. But Collins knows the transition won’t be easy.
“Going from playing high school to playing in the Mid-South is going to be a major, major adjustment for any high school player,” Collins said. “He’s got to get stronger and he has to be able to adapt to the speed of the game.”
Easy-going and laid back, Lisath will be flexible in finding a role with his new team.
“I’m just going to come in there and adjust to their system to see what they want me to do,” he said. “I’ll just add my character to it.”
With his starting shooting guard moving on, Collins will miss Lisath’s long distance shooting. But even more than that, he will miss his leadership off the court.
“He’s a team guy, good in the locker room, gym rat. He’s always in the gym wanting to work out,” Collins said. “I hope with our returners, that part of him will rub off of them, as well as our newcomers.”
After helping lead the Trojans to the Division III Regional Finals last year, Lisath hopes the legacy he leaves is simple.
“I just want to be known as that kid that worked hard,” Lisath said.
Alex Hider can be reached at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter