Isaiah Whitehead (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln), the No. 35 senior in the ESPN 100, committed to Seton Hall over St. John's, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Indiana on Thursday. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard is an explosive scorer and gives the Pirates a key victory over the Red Storm for a top local prospect.
Why did he commit to Seton Hall and how will he fit with Kevin Willard's offense? Let's break it down.
Why he committed: Whitehead is deeply rooted in New York City and wanted to stay near his family, especially his mother, and friends. He is also close with fellow Brooklyn native and Seton Hall pledge Khadeen Carrington. Not only can Whitehead be the face of the program, but the offense will go through him. If all goes well, he will be in some ways the savior of the program.
What he brings: He will contribute and over time impact his team with his scoring both in the transition game and the half court. He scores best at shooting pull-up jumpers and long-range shots. His attacking, aggressive attitude makes him special and hard to guard, along with a toughness you just can’t coach. He can create a shot in a crisis with a spin move or his crossover dribble. He takes enormous pride in stopping his man but as a raw defender he must learn all aspects of defense and embrace the concept of team defense. Working on and polishing his handle to be more efficient and setting up his teammates are the biggest holes in his game from an offensive standpoint.
How he fits: Whitehead has the potential to be the starting shooting guard for Willard upon arrival. He will put constant pressure on the defense on the break and will get the Pirates some easy baskets with his ability to stop and pop when he can't get all the way to the rim. In the halfcourt set he will be a threat on every touch coming off screening actions or cutting and reading dribble penetration. He will be worth his weight in gold when the play breaks down and at end-of-clock situations. Whitehead is also a competitive defender who has the talent, ability and attitude to defend all three perimeter positions.
Who he reminds us of: Whitehead is a broad-shouldered guard who plays bigger than his frame as his body type is reminiscent of former Philadelphia 76ers guard Andrew Toney. When comparing him to fellow New Yorker Lance Stephenson, they both have the same approach off the bounce, powerful enough to go through you or around you and with great body control to finish. When Stephenson and Whitehead start their rhythm dribbles it’s a sign to clear the runway because they are attacking, creating fouls, scoring or causing a charge. You love to coach these guys because if they teachable they will be a catalyst for your team.
How the class is shaping up: With Whitehead set to wear a Pirates uniform, Willard now has two ESPN 100 performers in the class who both bring something special. Power forward Angel Delgado is an elite rebounder on both ends of the floor. Shooting guard Khadeen Carrington is also a good scorer and simply makes plays with the ball in his hands. Small forward Ismael Sanogo is a long, aggressive wing who can score in and out, rebound and push and defend multiple positions as well. Willard has upgraded the talent and added excellent scoring, rebounding and perimeter defense. It’s an excellent and versatile class.