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Isaiah Stevens is just getting started

Justin Michael Avatar
March 3, 2020

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Isaiah Stevens is one of the most impressive freshmen in the history of Colorado State men’s basketball.

The 6-foot-0, 160-pound, point guard out of Allen, Texas, led the squad in scoring, assists and total minutes played. What’s more, they weren’t just empty minutes either. When games were on the line this year, it was Stevens that ran the offense and often took the biggest shots.

In the wins over Loyola-Marymount and Nevada, it was Stevens that came through for the Rams at the buzzer both times. And in the wild triple overtime victory over Tulsa, Stevens managed to put together one of the best performances of his young career precisely when the Rams needed it most.

PHOTO: Cris Tiller | CSU Athletics

As Ali Farokhmanesh explained to DNVR Rams a few weeks ago, what separates Stevens from most young guards is his vision on the floor and the ability to play at his own pace.

Much like Utah State’s Sam Merrill, who has been a thorn in CSU’s side over the last three years, Stevens is rarely bothered by defensive pressure. Putting things simply, if the defense zigs, then Stevens will zag. You will almost never see him trying to force things that aren’t there, which is why the coaching staff has so much faith in the up-and-coming point guard.

This week, the rest of the league confirmed what the good folks in FoCo have known for months, Stevens is the real deal. Stevens was named Mountain West Freshman of the Year by both the league media, making him the first Ram to receive the honor since Jason Smith in 2004-05.

“I feel like it’s just a tribute to all the hard work I’ve put in over the years with my dad, my brother and countless other coaches that I’ve known throughout out my life so far,” Stevens said of the award.

Stevens continued that while he appreciates the acknowledgement, individual hardware has never been what motivates him — even if he has always believed that he’s the best first-year player in the conference.

“I was out there, playing for wins and team progression,” Stevens said. “Of course, when you’re winning and doing things like that, certain individuals get some shine. But that doesn’t happen without the team playing well. Win first and all the accolades come second.”

While we don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves, the most exciting thing for the Ram faithful is that much like Smith, Stevens is a bonafide superstar in the making. Unlike ‘J-Smooth’, though, Stevens also has enough young talent surrounding him to really transform a program.

The Rams have already won more games in Stevens’ first year than in any of Smith’s three seasons at CSU and a big part of that is the scoring spark provided by underclassmen.

So far this season, freshmen have accounted for roughly 43 percent of CSU’s scoring. With an average of 13.0 points per game and 402 total points scored, Stevens alone has accounted for 17 percent of the Rams’ 2,341 points scored in 2019-20.

It’s because of this talented, young, core that Stevens believe the Rams are capable of really accomplishing something special over their careers.

“We talk about stuff all the time in the dorm room,” Stevens said.

As confident as Stevens is about the future, right now, he’s only focused on one goal and that’s finishing his freshman campaign on a high note. The players genuinely feel like they are capable of making a run in Las Vegas and even beyond that. So, until the Rams are officially eliminated from all postseason play, Stevens said he is going to be completely locked in.

“Coach does a great job of preaching that we need to stay in the moment, live in the moment and win the moment,” Stevens said.

“I feel like we’ve really taken that on within our culture and our program. We don’t really like to look too far ahead down the road. We’ll get there when we get there but we’re trying to win right now and stay in the present.”

As the Rams prepare to take on Wyoming once again, Stevens and Medved both emphasized that the Rams have to remain focused. Winning four games in four days is never easy but when the rivalry factor gets thrown in as well, the Rams could definitely be looking at a tough fight on Wednesday night.

“It’s that whole mentality of survive and advance,” Medved said. “The only thing that matters for us now is Wednesday at 5 o’clock.

CSU and Wyoming will tip off at the Thomas and Mack Center on March 4th at 6:00 p.m. MT. If the No.6 Rams eliminate the No. 11 Cowboys, CSU will advance to face the Nevada Wolf Pack, who have a first round bye after securing the 3-seed.


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