Issac McBride, class of 2019 guard for Baptist Prep, has done it all for the Eagles in his first 2 seasons of varsity basketball. As a freshman, McBride played frequently on varsity and was a huge factor for Baptist Prep in defeating Malvern for the 2016 4A state championship. His sophomore campaign ended with another state championship and he grabbed All-State, All-Tournament, All-Conference, and 4A Finals MVP while he was at it. He also broke the school record for most points in a single season averaging 21ppg.
Last summer he picked up an offer from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and he is receiving interest from multiple mid-major and high-major schools. McBride is currently playing for Team Penny EYBL 16u where he is averaging 16ppg.
Eric Lewis: What got you into playing basketball?
Issac McBride: Well I was really good at football and baseball, but I started loving basketball probably around the age of 3. For Christmas, my grandma bought me a special pack of Michael Jordan VHS tapes, “Come Fly With Me” and “Michael Jordan’s Playground.” I watched them over and over and wanted to be just like Michael. I really figured out that basketball could be something for me when I started playing competitively. Coach Coleman and my dad ran into each other at the barbershop and he asked if I wanted to play AAU over at the NLR boys and girls club. My first game I had 21 and hit a buzzer beater and that’s when I knew that I could be good at this sport. God blessed me with a chance to play with LR Hall in some practices and scrimmages. Coach Coleman had me around David Rivers, AJ Walton, Tyler Scaife, and of course Bobby Portis. I believe that installed my will to win big games because of seeing and looking up to them while they took over the state for 6 straight years.
Eric Lewis: Very few freshmen move up and play on varsity but you got a chance to get serious minutes as a freshman on a team who won a state championship. Looking back, how important was that early experience for your game?
Issac McBride: It was a blessing to be able to play as a freshman. It was also the longest season of my life in terms of playing. The physicality, speed, and the players were all on a different jump than junior high. Coach Ross and Coach Thompson called me in and asked if I wanted to stay in junior high or come up and contribute to the varsity team. I felt like I had accomplished all I needed at the junior high level, so I decided to move up and help the team. Coach had confidence in me enough to play a lot even though I was only a freshman. It was a genius plan by him in terms of looking ahead in the season. It truly helped with my confidence this year and certainly the end of my freshman year to play in the big games. By the time we played regionals in Pea Ridge, I knew I would be able to play with any high school player, regardless of what age or class.
Eric Lewis: Your team is coming off back-to-back state titles and a lot of people are picking you guys to get another one this year. Is there any added pressure for you and your team to 3-peat since a lot of people are expecting it to happen?
Issac McBride: No, I don’t think it is pressure at all. We are just out there playing the sport we love. God has blessed us with extremely great pieces for our team. Our guards can play extremely well on and off the ball, and we have versatile bigs who keep the defense honest with their play. So, we know as a team what we have, and that helps take the pressure off so we can just play. The media and the fan base are expecting nothing but the best, and that helps fuel us to work very hard. Regardless, at the end of the day, Coach Ross tells us that if we do not win state or we come up short, our season is never a failure! He emphasizes on us growing as men and future leaders rather than us winning games.
Eric Lewis: You are currently playing for Team Penny 16u. How has that experience been and who are some of the best players you have had to go against this summer?
Issac McBride: Team Penny has been one of my greatest experiences I have ever had with a summer team. It was very difficult having to travel on school nights to Memphis and back, but it was worth it to get more exposure and tips from a legend like Penny himself. My teammates and I are really improving as players and getting to see the business side of the game also. We have played against a lot of great players in the EYBL, but the best player was probably Juwan Gary from Team United. We battled back in forth in scoring for our team. It is a matchup that I am looking forward to having for the next few years! I am thankful for the organization for bringing us Arkansas kids under their wing and showing us how to get better and the ropes of highly competitive basketball.
Eric Lewis: Coach Ross is one of the best basketball coaches in the state. What has he done to your game since you arrived at Baptist Prep?
Issac McBride: Coach Ross is an extremely great coach! He is a type of guy that plans ahead and scouts a team with our other coaches, Coach T and Coach Marcus. He makes sure we are prepared mentally and physically for the games. He is the smartest coach in the state I guarantee. Coach has helped my spiritual walk extremely and helped my game get to another level. Coach opens up the gym in the morning and lets us work on our game and he is not the typical coach either. When we work out in the weight room, he is in there with us when he does not have any phone calls to make. When we run, he is out there running with us. Coach Ross knows that Malik Monk is my favorite player so whenever Malik practiced in our gym and I did not have class, he would let me come watch and study him. Coach Ross puts you around great players and lets you compete against the best with our schedule and he is doing this all while being young. He is also a great family man.
Eric Lewis: What schools are showing you interest right now?
Issac McBride: Baylor, Wichita State, UALR, Arkansas State, Abilene Christian, and the newest member would be Ole Miss. A few others as well.
Eric Lewis: What should fans of Baptist Prep and basketball in general expect from you this season?
Issac McBride: The fans at Baptist should expect a guy who is going to work hard on and off the court and I am dedicated to putting time in the gym and the classroom. I will continue to remain humble and give God all the glory throughout this process of becoming and trying to mold myself as the best player I can be. They can expect me to come in and try to contribute to helping this team win, with the players we have right now. I believe that I can be one of the best players in the state if I work hard enough on my game. I will continue to hold high expectations upon myself and set my goals high.
Eric Lewis: Favorite sneaker?
Issac McBride: I don’t have particularly a favorite sneaker. If you ask my friends they’ll tell you I love Jordan’s and Nike. My top 5 though would be Space Jam 11s, all red Huaraches, Oregon 4s, All Star 6s, and the OG 1s.
Eric Lewis: Favorite Food?
Issac McBride: My favorite food is Asian cuisine or Chinese food. More specifically, chicken fried rice for Pei Wei.
Eric Lewis: Have you decided on a major yet for college?
Issac McBride: I am probably going to either major in communications or something that involves statistics. My friend, Caleb Surly, works for ESPN and he has a crazy nice job. I either want to become a sport analyst and work my way up to a big corporation such as ESPN or do statistics for college teams or maybe even professional teams.