Fifteen-year-old Isaiah Francis is an aspiring pro basketball player living in Scarborough, Ontario. He has been a part of P.H.A.S.E 1 for over a year now.
The outgoing athlete's family carries a long legacy in track and field and soccer- his grandmother Veronica Brown represented her native country Jamaica in track, and his dad grew up playing soccer. Naturally, Francis played those sports too.
“No one in my family was a professional at basketball, but I have some family members who are professional in track… I think that just runs through our bloodline-- our genetics because I used to run track too & play soccer," he said.
With his impressive legacy, it seemed as if he had all the makings of a soccer player or a great track athlete. But his life changed when his uncle, a former high-school basketball player, helped him find his passion for basketball.
“At the beginning.. in Grade 7, my uncle one summer brought me to play basketball with his friends... And I felt like I was a lot better at basketball than I was at soccer, even though I never played it before. And so my Uncle coached me through the summer," he said.
"And I ended up liking basketball more than I soccer. So I stopped doing soccer and I got more into basketball,"
He noticed that he really enjoyed basketball, and made a firm decision that that’s what he wanted to pursue.
“My mom wanted me to play soccer… We just didn’t agree for a long time,” he chuckled. “And eventually after some recommendations, she let me play basketball.”
The point guard says that he characterizes his position as needing to have “good leadership, good ball handle, and good shot”. He needs to know how to “space the floor out, be able to know you are surrounding and find out where everyone is while you’re on the court”. He agreed that this skill of leadership needed to be general -- present on and off the court.
But he believes the main aspect of his game is “using his speed to get past players”.
When asked what motivates him on the court, he said:
“I just want to win.”
First Basketball Player in his Family
The desire to win is what's driving this expectation-defying point guard, who hopes to one day be the first pro basketball player in his family.
”I just want to be unstoppable," he added.
Francis also aspires to be a mentor to kids who want to play basketball as well. He is a big advocate of starting them out earlier. Most of his teammates started playing basketball when they were 8 or 9 years old, however, he was introduced while in seventh grade.
Francis wants to be unstoppable in basketball
And although he fits in well, he believes his skills would have been better had he started playing the sport earlier. But he says his confidence has improved since being part of P.H.A.S.E.1 Academy.
He says he stayed very quiet when he first joined and rarely wanted to stand out at times.
He jokes; “Now I feel like I talk too much! That’s what all my coaches tell me.”
When asked who his role model was he took a moment to reflect.
“I would stay Steph Curry, but I don’t wanna be like everyone else…” He laughed.
“Role model…” He thinks. “Who I wanna end up like? I wanna end up, like, higher than Steph Curry-- I wanna have the same playstyle as him," he said.
But it is Sharife Cooper who is his inspiration.
“He’s like me ’cause he’s short," the 5' 8" Francis said. "He’s pretty much skinny, he uses his speed most of the time, endgame, to get the score, to play defense,”
When questioned about what he wants to imitate about his other role model, Steph Curry’s playstyle, he explains;
“[Curry ] is unguardable. No one could guard that. I want to be like that. I wanna just be that player on the court that once you step on the court everyone knows they're gonna have to [double-- even,] triple.. team you. And couches-- their whole game plan is just about trying to stop you.”
With a smile, he adds, “I just want to be unstoppable.”