Isaiah Brock’s family and Army friends show support at Richmond game



Isaiah Brock and Alexander Valdivia met in Fort Lee, Virginia while stationed together in 2012. Valdivia visited Brock on Sunday, March 19 to see him play in the second round of the NIT.

Melissa Deatsch, Sports Editor

When Oakland men’s basketball moved on to the second round of the NIT and learned they’d be playing University of Richmond, freshman Isaiah Brock immediately had a call to make.

Brock’s best friend from his Army days, Alex Valdivia, is stationed in Fort Lee, Virginia, just 33 miles from the University of Richmond.

“He called me as soon as he found out they were coming to Richmond,” Valdivia said. “And I jumped up right out of my couch.”

He and another friend of Brock’s drove down to watch the Golden Grizzlies take on the Spiders in the second-round matchup on Sunday, March 19.

After following Brock’s success all season, Valdivia was thrilled to be able to finally see him play in person.

The two met in 2012 while stationed in Fort Lee, Virginia, after completing basic and advanced individual training.

“We just started playing basketball,” Valdivia said. “And, over time, we just grew a relationship and a good friendship . . . He taught me a lot about life, the world, race, you know. We’ve had conversations at my house in Texas until 3 a.m. in the morning, just talking about everything. He’s a really good person to talk to.”

“We just kind of clicked,” Brock said. “We hung out a lot outside of work and went on deployments together, and we just had a lot in common.”

Valdivia said when Brock was playing basketball in the Army, everyone knew he could be successful playing in college. His height and athleticism made that clear.

After Oakland’s head coach Greg Kampe saw Brock play in a tournament in Kuwait and offered him the spot on Oakland’s team, Valdivia told Brock, “It’s about time.”

He was happy to experience the transformation from watching Brock play in that Army basketball tournament to watching him play for a Division I university.

“It’s pretty exciting to watch him now,” Valdivia said before the Richmond game started. “It means a lot . . . it’s going to be something really cool to be able to watch him play an actual game.”

Also in attendance to watch Brock were other members of his unit, along with his dad and a few aunts and uncles. In total, Brock had about 22 people at the game to support him. It was the first time any of them saw him play in person, with the exception of his dad.

“It meant a lot because they’ve been messaging me a lot throughout the year, saying how much they love watching me play,” Brock said.  “So for them to actually see me in action felt good.”

Brock played 14 minutes in Sunday’s game, picking up 4 points, a block and six rebounds. For the season, Brock averaged 6.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game, the second best in the Horizon League, which earned him Horizon League Defensive Team honors.

Brock was also named to the Horizon League Freshman Team and received Freshman of the Week honors three times, in addition to his Player of the Week selection on Feb. 6.

Valdivia said he’s not surprised to see Brock succeed in this environment, partly because of his talent, but mostly because of who he is.

“He’s a very humble person,” he said. “He works hard, and he’s extremely mature for his age. He’s more mature than me, and I think I’m two years older than him.”