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STATE CHAMPS! SCOUT TEAM: Eying The Prize —Two Isaiahs set sights at teaming up for USI on college level

By: SCOTT M. BURNSTEIN, February 26, 2021, 11:21 am

The “I” Factor could be the X-Factor on the men’s basketball court these next few years at University of Southern Indiana.

The Screaming Eagles snared their backcourt of the future recently, gaining the commitments of in-state senior guards Isaiah Stafford (Indianapolis Crispus Attucks) and Isaiah Swope (Castle) last week in a 48-hour time span. Only half of the current SIU roster prepped in the Hoosier State.

Stafford is a crafty 6-foot-2 combo guard fresh from the frying pan of the hardscrabble Chicago prep scene. He’s averaging 19 points, five assists, four boards and three steals per night for a 17-6 Crispus Attucks Tigers squad after arriving in Indy with his family over the summer from Bolingbrook, Illinois.

The feisty 5-foot-10 Swope defines the role of a true floor general and is collecting 22 points, four assists, four rebounds and three swipes per game for Castle in the 2020-21 campaign. Scouts point to Stafford’s killer instinct in the open floor and Swope’s high motor and high hoop IQ as their best attributes as recruits.

In other words, just like their future coach used to play.

D-II USI is 11-4 this winter under first-year head coach Stan Gouard, who comes to the team from the University of Indianapolis, where he found success at the helm of the Greyhounds program. In his 12 seasons on the bench at UIndy, Gouard took the team to eight DII Big Dance appearances. But USI is home and the place Gouard made his name as a player back in the mid-1990s winning a NCAA National Championship (1995) and being named DII Player of the Year twice (1995, 1996).