The 10 days from when Isiah Brown entered the transfer portal to when he committed to Weber State were rather unassuming.
Recruiting season is in full swing, and national college basketball writers have warm fingertips from keeping up with players entering the portal and reporting what schools are offering which players.
There was no such stream of info for Brown’s process, a 6-foot-2 guard graduating from Grand Canyon this spring. Those with access to the portal reported his appearance on March 19 and Sunday, 10 days later, he was ready to announce his decision about where he’d play his final season of college basketball.
No shoutouts, no thank yous, no “with that being said” message screenshot from his phone typical of such moments. He simply tweeted an edited image of him in Weber State uniforms with three heart emojis.
The senior will finish his career in Ogden and stands to step in as Weber State’s starting point guard and as the first graduate transfer signing in program history. The process was quick because, he said, Randy Rahe had the kind of opportunity he was looking for.
“It all came down to Coach Rahe and my relationship with him that got developed over a pretty fast period of time,” Brown told the Standard-Examiner. “He was the first person to reach out to me when my name went into the portal and I found something I think I hadn’t found in other times doing the recruiting process. It matched everything that I was looking for — somebody that was excited about me as a player and a person, and I think we developed a good relationship.
“I spent time doing my homework, trying to put myself in position there to see if I could be successful, and they earned my trust in that way. I’m excited about the opportunity.”
Brown started his college career at Northwestern, where he played two years before transferring to Grand Canyon, a WAC school in Phoenix, Arizona. He scored 9.3 points per game as a junior at GCU, shooting 34.4% from the 3-point line while averaging 3.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 29.2 minutes per game.
One of his top focuses in choosing his final college destination was tapping into what he feels brings out the best of him as a player and teammate: having the ball in his hands in a position to create.
Brown was the 2016 Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Washington, scoring 33.8 points per game as a senior at Seattle’s Lakeside High School and garnering a three-star recruiting rating. He’s switched between roles on and off the ball in his three college seasons since, which he says has helped him become a better player.
But he’s ready to be handed the keys, so to speak.
“Playing the point guard position and being a playmaker, creating opportunities for myself and for my teammates — that’s a responsibility I’ve wanted my entire college career and haven’t necessarily got the opportunity to really have it in a way that is me at my best,” Brown said. “When I play my best basketball is when I’m given that responsibility. I just want to be the ultimate playmaker and leader on both ends of the floor ... I just wanted to be in a situation where I could show those parts of my game, so I’m excited for the opportunity. I have a lot to prove just for myself, first and foremost.”
Brown grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, where his father, Gerald, played college ball and stayed to coach high school. With limited opportunities in The Last Frontier, he flew to Seattle during summers to play AAU basketball from third grade until middle school when his family moved to Seattle.
Through summer basketball there, he’s longtime friends with Trevon Ary-Turner, the former Weber State guard who just finished a season at Dartmouth and earned a degree.
“That’s like a brother to me,” Brown said. “He was excited for me and felt like it was a good fit. He only had great things to say about Coach Rahe and the university.”
The move does create a pattern for the digital film and screenwriting graduate: three universities with the school colors of purple and white.
“I don’t know what it is. Hopefully I look good in purple,” Brown laughed. “It’s just kind of a weird coincidence, kind of a funny thing ... my mom says purple is the color of royalty, so maybe there’s something to it.”
Brown says his path has prepared him for success in his final season. He averaged 6.3 points per game in 15 minutes off the bench as a freshman on the 2016-17 Northwestern team that became the first in school history to make the NCAA Tournament, then saw his role reduced as a sophomore. That led to his transfer and a somewhat frustrating year at Grand Canyon that brought the firing of head coach Dan Majerle at season’s end.
“There’s ups and downs in anything that you do. I’ve had some really high ups and low lows, and everything in between. I’ve experienced everything, so I think now, I come in with a different perspective,” Brown said. “I understand what it takes to play at the highest level, and also to have those expectations and not necessarily reach them. So the way I’m able to approach my work and my teammates, and how I can influence them from my experience, is something I want to bring to Weber.
“I know what good teams look like, what NCAA Tournament teams look like, so I do want to be an influence that way.”
Between graduations and transfers, Weber State will welcome more newcomers this offseason than it has returning players, especially considering sophomore Donatas Kupsas played 34 minutes last season before tearing his ACL. And, the same day Brown announced his commitment, sophomore center Dima Zdor entered the transfer portal.
As it stands now, Brown is the second player to commit to WSU’s 2020 recruiting class, joining junior college wing player Zahir Porter in pledging to play for the Wildcats, and is the eighth scholarship player of a maximum of 13. For now, he joins Kham Davis and Michal Kozak as seniors next season.
He’s prepared for his decision to play at Weber State to include a good deal of leadership.
“I’m excited about that opportunity. That’s the responsibility of the point guard. That’s the position you want to be in, that’s part of it. And that’s also trusting Coach Rahe to put the right guys in good situations and coach up the team in a way we can be successful, and we go from there.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to be a guy who does bring people together and can be a leader in that way.”