By Matt Nestor
Prep Sports Reporter
For the second straight year, a high-profile basketball transfer is coming in to the NIC-10. This one will not be turned away by red tape and appeals, and could end up turning the entire conference race around next season.
Former Christian Life All-State guard Isaiah Box has moved over to Rockford East for his senior season, where he will compete with the E-Rabs in the NIC-10.
Last season saw Marcus Posley of Winnebago attempt a similar move to Auburn, but the IHSA had questions and ultimately denied his transfer. Posley remained at Auburn to graduate.
With Box, there are no such questions. He will be moving from a private school to a public school, and East is his neighborhood school he would have attended all along.
For East, the move is significant. Going into what could have been a transition year after graduating a good chunk of their Super Sectional team, they now add an all-state caliber player with the returning players.
The move is paying immediate dividends. Box made his debut June 4 in the Machesney Park Harlem Summer League and helped guide his team to two easy victories.
“For having no preparation and no practices, I was pretty pleased with what I saw the first night,” East coach Roy Sackmaster said. “Saw a lot of good things and, for the first time of this particular group playing together, there are some signs that we could be a pretty good basketball team.”
He said Box brings a lot of elements the upcoming season’s team was missing, and even a lot of things that last year’s team, despite its success, didn’t always possess.
“What I like about Isaiah, who is obviously a very talented player, is he is a tremendous passer and great basketball I.Q.,” Sackmaster said of his new point guard. “His instincts come naturally to him, and he makes everyone on the floor better.”
Box’s arrival is really just the continuation of a revival for East sports. He follows in the footsteps of Alonte Holliday, who came from Guilford to East, and joins a program that has five of its seniors on its way to college to further their career.
“For us, it’s unique,” Sackmaster said. “Forever, people were just trying to get out of East. We were always dealing with people leaving as transfers, and now, all of the sudden, we have this feeling that people want to be here and be a part of what we’re doing.”
Sackmaster said Box is a good student and will fit in well with the returning players, whom he praised for their work in the classroom.
He said that because of their hard work in school, it should help the team fight through the whispers by others about adding a player of that caliber.
“Playing in the public schools, we always use the word adversity,” Sackmaster said. “We talk about overcoming it and being able to persevere through that. We understand we might have a target on our back, but with this team, I’m looking forward to that challenge, because I think they will handle it well.”
From the June 13-19, 2012, issue