Isaiah Stewart: A Baller From Upstate New York Gains National Acclaim

Photo courtesy of Position Sports/Nike/Jon Lopez.

In upstate New York, the basketball scene isn’t as big as it is downstate. However, there is still some great talent up north in cities such as Utica, Albany, Rochester, Syracuse and Buffalo.

One of the native sons from northern New York is Isaiah Stewart. The 6-foot-8 forward, who is rated as the No. 13 player in the Class of 2019 by ESPN, is a muscular, powerful player that is dominant around the rim, and can bang in the low post and is a great rebounder.

His take on what motivates him to be successful on the hardwood: “Just my drive and my family, and most of all, the younger kids that’s looking up to me and motivating me to always work hard, and I got people looking up to me and I got people counting on me.”

Stewart hails from Rochester, which is a town with a very high crime rate. When asked what it was like being from Rochester, he replied, “It’s good, man. Right now, it’s a lot of violence up there, but, to be one of the persons to come back to Rochester, you know, a lot of people know me, and a lot of people look up to me from Rochester, so it’s great being from there, I’m just trying to put on for my city.”

On the basketball culture in upstate New York, he replied, “It’s great. I see a lot of hungriness, you know, people up there, we play on outside basketball courts, I wouldn’t say it’s like The Bronx, but it’s like a watered-down [version] of The Bronx. But we definitely get after it upstate.”

Stewart first started out high school at McQuaid Jesuit High School in Brighton, New York, where he averaged 18.5 points, 12.4 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game, as he was awarded Player of the Year honors by the Rochester City Athletic Conference. As a sophomore, he missed most of the season due to a hamstring injury. In his time there, the Knights went 31-12.

Stewart calls for the ball in the low-post for the City Rocks during EYBL Session 3. (Photo courtesy of Visions By Jeff/Jeffrey Armstrong)

Since his younger years, Stewart has been a mainstay on the Albany City Rocks program, which plays on the Nike EYBL circuit. So far on the AAU circuit throughout the first three sessions, he has averaged 17.5 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, while leading the City Rocks to a 9-3 record and first place in Division A.

When asked about playing for upstate New York’s premier AAU program, Stewart replied, “I mean, it’s great. Great team, I’m happy I chose to play with this team and the coaches are great and I really picked the right choice by coming to City Rocks.”

Although he had more than thirty scholarship offers by the end of his sophomore season, he decided it was best to pack up and transfer to La Lumiere School in La Porte, Indiana, a town that is 27 miles away from South Bend.

When asked about his decision to transfer to La Lumiere, which was coming off a season in which they won the Dick’s Sporting Goods Nationals title and was rated the No. 1 team in the nation, Stewart replied, “It was a pretty easy adjustment, it wasn’t hard at all. You know, my teammates felt like brothers right away, and from there, that’s where the chemistry started to get built.”

As a junior, Stewart averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds per game for the Lakers, who finished 23-5 on the season and was ranked No. 6 in the nation by USA Today.

Stewart smiles during a game. (Photo courtesy of Visions by Jeff/Jeffrey Armstrong)

When asked about his collegiate recruitment, Stewart said, “I really don’t have a favorite, I’m nearing to cut [my] list soon in about a few weeks, I’m going to have my top eight, no favorites. But schools that are recruiting me hard are Duke, Texas, Michigan State, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Villanova, Louisville and Indiana, just to name a few.”

Now all he has left is to achieve a big summer with USA Basketball, which invited him to try out for their U17 team in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in June, then a chance to help the City Rocks make a deep run to the Peach Jam finals in North Augusta, South Carolina in July, and lastly, his senior year at La Lumiere, a possible McDonald’s All-American invite and a collegiate decision.

But his mission is: “Just USA Basketball, you know, to be able to make the U17 team, you know, win a Peach Jam title with my team, and finish out the summer strong.”

As for the future? “I don’t even know what’s next in the future for me, but you know, hopefully just picking my college, you know, just getting ready to work from there.”

Highlights of Isaiah Stewart:

Courtesy of Courtside Films.

Courtesy of Courtside Films.

Courtesy of New Recruit Media, LLC.

Courtesy of Rivals.

Courtesy of RI Affiliated.

Courtesy of HoopFocus.

Courtesy of New Recruit Media, LLC.

Courtesy of Hoop Highlights.

Courtesy of New Recruit Media, LLC.

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