Jason Guarente (@JasonGuarente)
The first thing Izaiah Brockington noticed was the wind. He’s a Philly guy, no stranger to cold winters, but this was a different kind of cold. It blew right through him.
“It’s flat out here,” the Archbishop Ryan grad said. “It’s a bunch of farm land. Because of the flatness, I feel like the wind gets a 100-mile head start. It’s ridiculous.”
Archbishop Ryan grad Izaiah Brockington (above) is having a big year at Iowa State. (Photo courtesy Iowa State athletics)
This was a small price for Brockington to pay for the transformation the midwest has provided. Leaving Penn State, a comfort zone for three years, and venturing to Iowa State brought a necessary boost. Brockington has flourished in the rugged Big 12.
When Brockington decided to transfer to his third college in five years, he made an eclectic list of possible destinations. Wake Forest, BYU, Arkansas and Iowa State. There was no league or location that linked them together.
There were other things. The chance to be a centerpiece instead of a role player. The chance to win. After some deliberation, Brockington chose Ames. Coach T.J. Otzelberger won the recruiting battle.
“He liked my game; he liked my passion,” Brockington said. “He felt like I would be one of the leaders. Really be able to bring together a bunch of guys from different places. I needed a coach who gave me the green light, who had confidence in all of my abilities and let me show all of what I could bring to a team.”
It has unfolded just like Brockington imagined. The 6-4 combo guard is averaging 18.0 points, 7.4 rebounds and is shooting 48.4% from the field. Iowa State is 19-9 (6-9 Big 12) and spent time in the Top 25 after a 12-0 start.
Brockington has topped the 20-point barrier a dozen times this season, including a season-high 35 points on Wednesday night against West Virginia. (Photo courtesy Iowa State Athletics)
Film study helped Brockington make his final decision. Otzelberger showed his future leading scorer video of the rest of the team and Brockington imagined how they all could fit together. The coaching staff believed he was a next level talent.
“Izaiah is a guy who just makes things go his way,” Otzelberger told the Associated Press. We’ve seen that from him all year. He’s relentless. He brings tremendous energy and effort. When you do that, things usually come around and go your way.”
Brockington was named Big 12 Co-Player of the Week Monday. It’s the third time he has received this honor. He has also earned a spot on the watch list for the Jerry West Award given to the nation’s top shooting guard.
Rebounding is one skill that has separated Brockington from his peers. He ranks second in the Big 12, an astounding feat for a guard. Only Kansas State’s Mark Smith, at 8.6 per game, has more.
“That’s really just a desire thing,” Brockington said. “I feel like I have an advantage over most people in the air when the ball is at its highest point. It’s really just working on my positioning and predicting where it’s gonna be. Trying to get it before other people can get to it.”
Brockington played two seasons at Penn State, averaging 12.6 ppg in 2020-21. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Climbing the college ladder has presented some challenges. Brockington started at Saint Bonaventure, where he played 11 minutes per game as a freshman. He transferred to Penn State, sat out a year, and played the next two seasons for the Nittany Lions.
After finally becoming a starter four years after leaving Archbishop Ryan, Brockington relocated to Iowa. The former All-State selection is on his fourth coach in four playing seasons. It was hard to build trust because his coach kept changing.
“It definitely has been a long road,” Brockington said. “I can’t do anything but be grateful. I just thank God every day for allowing me to come to a situation that has helped me so much. The recognition is always nice, especially after all these years. I’m just going out there and trying to help us win.”
Brockington has another decision to make after this season ends. He has one more year of eligibility. He can continue to build on what he has achieved or make the leap to the pros.
The senior will wait until the offseason to sort through those choices. He has already spent five years in college.
“That’s something I’ve got to talk to my family about and really weigh my options,” Brockington said. “Figure out, is it best for me to come back? I’ve been dreaming of playing pro since I was 3 years old really. The dream hasn’t changed. So my ultimate goal is to be a professional for sure.”
Whatever comes next, Brockington has elevated his stock at Iowa State. He’s not a role player. He’s the guy. It took a trip to an unfamiliar place to find himself.