Isiah Warfield continues to find his way into the lineup as a slender, athletic, and threatening defender. Warfield is a six-foot, three-inch rising junior guard/wing combo hailing from Monaca, Pennsylvania. “Zay,” as he is affectionately called, had an interest in a number of schools. Indiana, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, and Duquesne all were all on the top of Warfield’s list, with Duquesne offering. Still, Liberty University won the three-star over, and he continues to win the hearts of Flames fans.

Below are Isiah’s career stats per ESPN:

The Numbers

Warfield has had his ups and downs in terms of playing time over the last two seasons. He saw the floor for some intense defensive energy minutes in his freshman season and has continued to improve on that total in his sophomore season. Warfield had solid numbers in his freshman campaign but was also limited in his attempts due to sparse playing time. Right now, Warfield is demonstrating an ability to finish around the rim and to become an even more capable slasher. Part of Warfield’s career has been affected by the presence of Joseph Venzant. They pose the same threat in the lineup, so they have been competing for the same space and role.

This past season, Warfield showed incredible potential and reliability in his on-ball defending, as well as his adept ability to jump passing lanes. He applied pressure and provided exceptional backup defending for Venzant with next to no drop-off. Head coach Ritchie McKay even opted to play Warfield over Venzant in some contests, especially when Isiah was getting scoring opportunities.

Warfield obviously struggled in his shooting. I attribute this to inconsistent playing time (the unpredictability really throws off rhythm) and this being a lesser emphasis in his skill set. If we learned anything from Shiloh Robinson this season it’s that any player can turn into a shooting threat when given the opportunity partnered with his hard work.

In the coming season, I anticipate Warfield raising his three-point percentage to the high 20 percentage range, increasing his rebounds to around two per game, and adding one steal per game. These numbers may seem modest, but they make sense if he continues to be a crucial role player. However, there is always the possibility of a player finding his rhythm and expanding his role. I wouldn’t be surprised if Warfield is that type of player, especially given his work ethic.

The Intangibles

It goes without saying, but Warfield is a ball-hawking defender. He has a nose for the ball, great anticipation, and understands the packline. Isiah is an above-average athlete for mid-major basketball, and it appears he is laterally more gifted than vertically, although he doesn’t lack verticality. Additionally, Warfield has a long wingspan which is a great addition on closeouts, blocks, strips, and rebounds. Fans often forget how helpful long arms are to grabbing misses.

Warfield is a constant hustler. It’s obvious he understands college playing time is earned, often by small margins over the man in front of you. It’s a highly competitive environment that is fairly cutthroat. Isiah is aware of this and is ready each time his number is called. He is constantly going after 50/50 balls and trying to show the coaching staff he is reliable.

I anticipate more of the same from Warfield this season, with some refined offensive skills developed from the off-season. I think he will be an option for a few more three-pointers made this season, and I believe he will continue to be an even better defender.

I believe in Warfield and love watching his defense and effort. He would be a wonderful study for young players on maximizing the details in the game of basketball.

Previous Breakdowns: 

Kyle Rode
Blake Preston 
Darius McGhee
Shiloh Robinson
Stephen Burgraff