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Isaiah Brock: A golden journey

Isaiah Brock adds value to Team 50

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Isaiah Brock greets Head Coach Greg Kampe after checking out of the game against Chicago State on Saturday, Nov. 19.

From being told by the NCAA he was ineligible to play in October 2016, to becoming a starter for the Golden Grizzlies within couple of months, Isaiah Brock has come a long way.

Oakland men’s basketball head coach Greg Kampe met Brock in Kuwait, where he was playing basketball in the Troops First Foundation program during summer 2015. He had been serving in the U.S. Army since 2011.

Kampe, amazed by Brock’s story and his interest in basketball, thought he would be a great addition to the team. Kampe wanted the team to be influenced by Brock’s experience and personality.

The men’s basketball team, in its 50th season, added Brock as a forward.

Predicting the possibilities

Before the season began, Oakland successfully appealed to have NCAA declare Brock eligible to play. Kampe told the press what would come next for him on Media Day.

“He’s gonna be a good player,” Kampe said. “He’s gonna probably play five to eight minutes this year, and, by the time he’s a junior, he’s gonna be a really good player.”

On Monday, Nov. 7, Brock stepped onto the Blacktop and got his much-anticipated game time. He played for five minutes that night, and scored one point off of a free throw. The Friday of that same week, he played for another four minutes in the season opener at home against Bowling Green State University.

“He’s got raw athleticism,” Kampe said. “He struggles offensively, but he jumps like an NBA player. He jumps the second time quickly. He’s got long arms. He blocks shots. He’s gonna help us.”

Kampe predicted correctly. In fact, Brock started to prove his worth early. His minutes and points started to increase each game. On Nov. 18, in the game against Goshen College, Brock collected a career-high 12 points, his first time scoring double digits.

He was expected to play only “five to eight minutes” through the whole season, but he has ended up playing in every game so far. He played 33 minutes against Nevada in the Great Alaska Shootout on Thanksgiving Day, his longest time on the court.

Superfan’s support

The Golden Grizzlies fans have also been excited to see Brock join the team. Oakland alum and longtime fan of the basketball program, Anthony Gallina, attends every home game to watch Team 50 play.

“Brock has been a very exciting addition to the Golden Grizzly family,” Gallina said. “His service to this country is remarkable and appreciated. Now that he has moved into a new journey in his life, it has been wonderful to see Isaiah become a hardworking and dedicated college student. While it has been thrilling to watch him on the court, it is even more exciting to see that he is being able to earn a college education from this great institution.”

Gallina has watched the last 14 seasons and thinks this year’s team is “the most balanced, defense-minded and talented.”

“Isaiah being cleared to play was great news for him and wonderful for Oakland University’s fans to have a chance to watch him play,” he said. “It has been thrilling to see him playing more and more minutes and work his way into the starting role for the Golden Grizzlies. He has been playing great defense for the team. When he plays on the court, there is something special about how the atmosphere changes and the team plays.”

From past to present

In high school, Brock was an athlete involved in basketball, football, lacrosse and track. But according to him, he didn’t take basketball that seriously.

“It wasn’t something I was actually determined to succeed in,” Brock said. “I was definitely more into lacrosse and track and field. I mean, it gave me a little bit of basketball experience of playing on a certain level.”

He gives credit to Oakland’s coaching staff for his improved performance through practice and the games.

“Of course I give myself a little bit of credit, but it’s kind of them pushing me along, helping me out, teaching me the ropes that has helped me get comfortable on the floor during games,” he said.

The coaching staff and his teammates helped Brock balance the academics and athletics through the semester. He plans to keep improving his performance in basketball and pursue a degree in psychology.

“This is a great group of guys,” he said. “It feels like I’ve been here for years. A lot of love come here. Now that I’m established here, I look at them as brothers, and it’s like one big family.”

Freshman forward/guard Chris Palombizio is one of Brock’s closest teammates. They are neighbors and met at Oakland during summer sessions.

“I look at him as my best friend and somebody to look up to,” Palombizio said. “He’s a great person to talk to, and I feel as if I can tell him anything. We first met over the summer and simply started making small talk and the rest is history. I look at him as not only a friend, but a brother, and my family looks at him as part of the family, as well.”

Palombizio has also noticed Brock’s transition to Oakland and his improvements on and off the court.

“Off the court, you will never meet a more honest person,” Palombizio said. “His on-the-court improvements are incredible. He’s learning so fast and already starting to be dominant as a freshman. I can’t even imagine how good he’s going to be in the following years. I’m excited to play with him for three more years.”

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