WEST ORANGE, N.J. – The Hoop Group Tip Off event saw some of the brightest young stars on the East…
New Jersey freshmen dealing with hype
In this day and age everything in the recruiting process begins earlier and earlier. It ranges from coaches offering, to commitments, to rankings, to hype. That was on full display at the Hoop Group Tip Off where numerous high powered programs made it a point to see Isaiah Briscoe of Newark (NJ) St. Benedict's and Karl Towns of Metuchen (NJ) St. Joseph's. Schools such as Syracuse, Kentucky, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Xavier, Louisville, Georgia Tech, St. John's and more are well aware of Briscoe and Towns. The pair of 2015 prospects are not only contributing, but playing key roles on high powered varsity teams this season, and that has brought out the coaches and in turn started the hype. For the two New Jersey natives who have been described as close friends by family members, they are being forced to deal with great expectations before having their driver's license. Still the duo says it doesn't bother them in the least, and they are honored to have the opportunity being presented to them. "The hype and everything hasn't bothered me," said Towns who is a skilled 6-foot-10 center. "We have a great coaching staff who has been helping me deal with everything. They just keep me focused on every game." Briscoe, a skilled 6-foot-3 combo guard, echoed the statements of Towns saying that it has been excellent to have the attention that he has received at a young age. "It's an honor to have all of the attention, but I can't let it go to my head," explained Briscoe. "I just have to stay level headed and focus on the team and getting better on the court." In fact, Towns says that he feels a lot of the coaches are so eager to recruit him not only for his skill level, but because of the work ethic he has displayed to this point. "I think the reason that the hype has been generated is because of the work people see me put in while in the gym with my dad and my coaches," said Towns. One thing working in the favor of both Briscoe and Towns is the presence of a very strong father figure. Both prospects indicate that despite what people on the outside say about them, they know staying humble and working hard is the only way to realize their potential. "I really don't listen to what people on the outside say," said Towns. "I just go out and play for my team and play my game. I don't try to prove people right or prove people wrong, I just try to go out there and do the best I can for my team, my family, and myself. As long as we as a team get the win, I don't care about much else." When it comes to playing in front of big time millionaire college coaches on a daily basis despite their young age, Briscoe and Towns both say it is simply business as usual, though they both recognize the responsibility that comes with it. "It is an honor," said Briscoe. "I am a freshman, so I feel honored and I try to go out and perform as best I can for them when they come to see me," Towns added, "It is a very humbling experience to have so many coaches and so many colleges interested in you. Knowing what you do has the respect of coaches is a great thing. I have so much respect for all of the schools and the job the coaches do at the highest level." For now Briscoe and Towns aren't too concerned with who is or isn't watching them and what people are or aren't saying about them. Instead they know it is about hard work and improving. "I am focused on getting physically stronger and tougher," said Towns. "I feel I have a tough mentality, but my body is still coming around. Working on my defense is also a big thing. If you want to win a state championship you have to work on everything, so I am trying to get better in every aspect of my game." With Brisoce the focus is on much of the same. "My defense has improved a lot and I know that is important so I continue to focus on that," he said. "Also I am working hard to get more consistent on my three point shot." While it is no doubt difficult for any 15 year old to handle the expectations and pressure from being billed as the next big thing, let alone doing it in the shadow of New York City, a town famous for hype. Still for now both Brisoce and Towns seem to be doing an excellent job and know where their focus has to be going forward.
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