FAYETTEVILLE - Though scoring a career high 34 points in Arkansas’ 121-89 victory over Florida International last Saturday night at Walton Arena, Arkansas freshman guard Isaiah Joe wasn’t named SEC Freshman of the Week.
The young alum of Fort Smith Northside did better than that. He was named the SEC Player of the Week regardless of class or age Monday by the SEC Office in Birmingham, Ala.
Joe hit 10 of 13 3-point attempts and hit his only 2-point try to shoot 11 of 14 from the field and was 2 for 2 on free throws for his 34 points.
“Of course you draw raves because of your scoring,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said at Monday’s press conference mainly regarding the 5-1 Razorbacks visiting the 4-4 Colorado State Rams Wednesday night in Fort Collins, Colorado. “He made 10 threes and it’s been awhile since anybody did that. He got it going in that zone. And when you get in that zone playing against FIU where you are getting up and down that floor you are going to get lost o that floor. But our guys did a good job of finding him and he did a great job of knocking shots down. Kudos to him. That’s what happens when you win. The individual awards come in.”
The 6-5 freshman didn’t just score but also dished three assists, grabbed two rebounds and made three steals.
“He played well,” Anderson said. “He played an all-round game.”
Anderson has lauded Joe for being a white collar shooter in a blue collar package Joe and reserve forward Gabe Osabuohien consistently sacrifice themselves to take charges, and Joe has drawn Anderson praise for his defense, passing and especially attitude.
The certainly not your Average Joe shooting the ball isn’t apt to become Big-Head Joe for his awards, Anderson believes.
“He’s ‘Every Day Joe,” Anderson said. “He just does what he’s supposed to do each and every day. Come out and work hard. He’s grounded. And I go back to his upbringing, and even as he’s gotten here. He just comes in with his lunch pail every day ready to come to work.”
Anderson said the attitude enables Joe to fit whatever role is required whether setting up Preseason All-SEC sophomore center Daniel Gafford of El Dorado or hitting the open three as defenses collapse on Gafford, or, when point guard Jalen Harris needs a break, ease over from shooting guard/small forward to running the team.
“When you talk about the all-around game, I think fundamentally he’s sound,” Anderson said. “He can handle the basketball. He can play the point position. I’m comfortable with him bringing the ball up the floor. Obviously he knows how to use screens and how to come off screens. Now he’s learning how to get down the floor and get lost in transition because people are paying a lot of attention to Daniel. And he can put it on the floor, as well, and he’s a willing passer. He gives it up, makes nice passes.”
More than looking for a shot, he looks for the defensive holes to shoot through.
“He doesn’t have to try to go get the game,” Anderson said. “That’s the beauty of it. Even when you watched him the other night, he did not have to go get it. It just came to him and he took the good shots and he was making them. If you’re not making them, then you do other things and that’s a mark of a good player. I’m just glad he’s playing for us.”
Joe and the Razorbacks will be on the CBS Sports Network television for Wednesday’s 9 p.m. (CST) game at CSU’s Moby Arena in Fort Collins.
Arkansas routed the Rams of Mountain West, 92-66 last season at Walton Arena but Anderson said the Rams have “much improved” under new Coach Niko Medved.