Michigan Basketball: How underrated is Isaiah Barnes?

Isaiah Barnes, Michigan basketball’s newest commit, is much better than what his rankings suggest. Here’s why.

Isaiah Barnes went from relatively unknown to a hot commodity with the strides he made in the offseason between his sophomore and junior year. It wasn’t only about adding a few pounds to his 6-foot-6 frame, Barnes needed to look within and build that burning desire to succeed. Juwan Howard saw that in him and offered him a spot on the 2021 Michigan basketball roster, and he accepted.

Even though he hadn’t visited, he had just spoken to coach Howard on the phone and via video chats, Isaiah knew Michigan basketball was for him.

“I didn’t really know what more to look for other than what Juwan was offering,” Barnes said. “So I came out and made that decision because there’s nothing more I could have asked for.”

Barnes, a borderline top 100 basketball player for the 2021 cycle, according to the major recruiting services, accomplished unbelievable feats at such a young age. The dedication to jump from 160-pounds to 190 while maintaining athleticism is in itself worthy of a look from scouts.

While the offer and commitment caused recruiting gurus to reevaluate their initial assessment of Isaiah, he still isn’t anywhere he should be or where he will be once he beings the short journey to Ann Arbor from his home outside of Chicago.

Before his high school career is over, Isaiah could be within the top 50, if basketball at his level returns in some form or fashion.

Currently, Barnes had his highest ranking from 247 sports, where he’s listed at 85th nationally, 20th at SF, and fifth from his home state of Illinois. In a recent article, Brian Snow from 247 sports explained that he’s much better than where his composite rating has him, which stands today at 95th. Just three days ago, he was outside the top 100.

“Barnes, who is now No. 106 in the 247Sports Composite Rankings,” Snow wrote, “but is viewed in a higher light by 247Sports in the Top247 where he comes in at No. 85 overall, was one of the prospects who exploded this past high school season, and was likely to reel in even more high-major offers had the spring been open for college coaches to see him.”

Rivals was part of the reason for the jump in the composite, even though the evaluation was conducted by watching high school tape and not AAU material.

“He’s stronger, tightened up his handle and shot the ball much better, played all over the floor,” Eric Bossi, a national recruiting analyst for Rivals, said. “His rise (to No. 112 nationally from outside the top 150), though, came from evaluating high school games against regular kids, not the best players in the country. That’s a big difference.”

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ESPN seems to be lagging in their scouting of Barnes as they have him way down at 37th at his position, which they say is at SG, but he’s very much a wing. Maybe when their scouts are able to get back on the road, they can properly adjust their perspective – which was probably formed when Isaiah was a freshman, well before the weight gain and the season average of 18.5 points-per-game.

After spending three years at Oak Parks River Forest High School, Isaiah is transferring to Simeon Academy for his senior season. Simeon is known as one of the best basketball programs in the nation, seeing the likes of Derrick Rose, Jabari Parker, and Kendrick Nunn pass through their hallways.

Next: 3 takeaways from commitment of Isaiah Barnes