Issac McBride prepared to be Devon Dotson’s replacement, but happy to team with PG instead

Kansas freshman Issac McBride puts a three over fellow freshman Tristan Enaruna during a scrimmage on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

For a brief period of time this spring, shortly before he was scheduled to pack up and move to Lawrence to embark upon his college basketball career at Kansas, Issac McBride found himself at least a little preoccupied with the future of another Jayhawk.

While working diligently with his trainer in his hometown of Little Rock, Ark., McBride plugged away keeping in mind that he might arrive at KU not as a teammate of starting point guard Devon Dotson, but as his replacement.

Dotson, of course, was exploring his NBA chances, and it wasn’t until the May 29 draft deadline for withdrawing that Dotson ultimately decided to remain with the Jayhawks.

“That was something that we pondered on every day,” McBride said of Dotson’s decision process and the impact it could have on McBride’s role as a freshman, “considering he might not be able to or might not be coming back. And after we saw his draft combine, he did really well and played very great. And we expected that, because Devon’s a really talented player.”

With Dotson potentially keeping his name in the draft, McBride prepared for a scenario in which he could have ended up being asked to take over KU’s starting point guard duties as a freshman, just as Dotson did this past season.

Enhancing his pick and roll skills immediately became a priority for McBride as a result, with both his trainer and KU assistant coach Kurtis Townsend telling the soon to be freshman he needed to become more effective in those situations.

“We didn’t know if he was coming back or not,” McBride said of Dotson, “but we studied it real closely and then we worked according to if Devon’s not going to be able to come back. But we have him back and that’s going to make our team even more dangerous.”

When McBride discussed Dotson returning to KU he did so not as a player wishing the starting job and/or more playing time would be heading his way this coming season, but as a team-first guard excited to learn from Dotson. McBride said ever since he first committed to KU that Dotson treated him as a teammate, and that Ochai Agbaji and Marcus Garrett really made him feel welcome, too, even before officially joining the roster this summer.

Ultimately, McBride anticipates benefiting from Dotson’s presence over the course of the coming months.

“Having him back is going to be something different, of course. Guarding someone every day that fast, that quick, that strong and that smart,” McBride explained. “It’s only going to make me a better defender and a better player and a tougher competitor.”

McBride could still end up becoming Dotson’s replacement, but that won’t come for at least another year now. Until then, McBride can play against Dotson at practices, pick his brain when the freshman is looking for advice and ease into the spotlight of playing in the backcourt for a nationally renowned program.

“Having someone like that will be a blessing,” McBride said of teaming with Dotson, “and not even a blessing in disguise but just out there. That’s someone that can help not only me, but our whole team. That’s a whole different dynamic to our team.”

Indeed, the Jayhawks will fare far better with Dotson in 2019-20 than they would have without the blur of a point guard. The fact that McBride is so ready to recognize that speaks to his maturity and desire to win.

McBride made sure to ready himself for a season without Dotson, but now that they’ll be teaming up — and with McBride comfortable playing off the ball the duo could give KU an ultra-quick backcourt in spurts — McBride will be even better set up for longterm success with the Jayhawks.

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