A native of Baltimore, Isaiah Brock was an admittedly indifferent student in high school. The idea of maintaining or achieving grades good enough for NCAA qualification never crossed his mind.
Brock joined the Army in April 2012. After basic training, he was assigned to the 54th Quartermaster Mortuary Affairs Company. That meant he served his country by processing the bodies of soldiers who had made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
He had tours of duty in Afghanistan and Kuwait. Brock, who was 6-foot as a high school senior and had grown to 6-8, enjoyed basketball but hadn’t played much. In August 2015, he was able to participate in the Hardwood Classic in Kuwait. Troops First Foundation recruits college coaches to travel to war zones to run practices and games between the soldiers.
Brock was playing against the team Greg Kampe was coaching. Actually, Brock was playing above Kampe’s team.
“Isaiah was on Steve Lavin’s team,” Kampe said. “It wasn’t great basketball but this guy on Lavin’s team was 6-8, jumping over everybody and blocking shots. Isaiah was raw but very athletic.
“One of the things they ask the coaches to do is take time to talk to the soldiers, get to know them.”
The coach who was headed back to the states and the soldier who was a year from being discharged started a conversation that led Kampe to offering Brock a chance to play for the Grizzlies.
“I was moved by his story and I wanted to do something to help,” Kampe said. “I thought that having someone like Isaiah around our players, who have never experienced what he has, would be really good.
“What I didn’t know was that he would turn out to be good player.”
The Horizon League men's tournament tips off on March 3 in Detroit.
Kyle Binder has more on his story.